Teacher Collaboration Part B; why is it so hard to work together?

Just be kind…

Some of you might remember my first article about teacher collaboration, some of you might not; it doesn’t really matter. My point is a different one. I am not sure if this happens in all fields or only with teachers. But let’s face it; we are having trouble or struggling to truly and meaningfully collaborate.

Collaboration is defined as working together to achieve a common goal. So, first of all, let’s define our goal. For most of us, our goal as teachers is to provide a positive learning experience, equip them with all the necessary skills and guide them towards their unique goals. Some of you might think that it’s a vague or an extremely optimistic goal.

Text by: Tanya Livarda

The next step is to share your vision with other people. And by sharing I don’t mean dictating what to do and what not to do or pointing your finger at someone who has second thoughts. Sharing is providing the opportunity to all the people to try it out and to figure out whether it works or not. If it doesn’t work, guess what? Collaboration appears. Questions like ‘what can we do?’ or ‘why do you find it challenging?’, ‘why it doesn’t work for this particular group of students?’. By sharing your genuine thoughts and ideas, progress can be made, even to the most innovative ‘methods’, techniques and approaches.

Another step that you have to take and the most difficult one is to let yourself collaborate with other people. This is extremely challenging particularly if we think we are the best of the best and we treat other people who have a different point of view negatively. So, please avoid criticism and welcome constructive discussion. This discussion helps you view things in a different and perhaps more positive way. Oh and by the way discussion involves listening and remaining silent. Most people just listen because they have to. Or they listen because they have prepared a response while you were talking and guess what? They haven’t listened to anything you said. Or, finally, they just give their own biased responses without taking the other’s point of view into account.

And then (drums roll)….Here it comes! The power of silence. It’s good to have an opinion; amazing I would say. It’s even better when you support it with relevant argumentation. But it is sometimes also important to take a step behind and just listen without talking, without having an opinion about everything. Sometimes, people need to be understood, to be valued without being criticized or judged, just because they do not follow a ‘trend’ or an ‘innovation’. They just want someone to listen to them!

Last but not least…creating things together! Wouldn’t it be lovely to support each other in any possible way by creating things together? To create a community that works towards this common goal? Encouraging and supporting people, especially colleagues, is so powerful!

As I have mentioned quite a few times, to me, having one hundred certificates, two Masters, five PhDs , published articles in journals and eight awards do not matter. Congratulations! Well Done! I’ve been there and I always characterise myself as an unstoppable learner. And I will go on learning and learning! However, what matters to me most is how you can use this knowledge to make the world better, more peaceful and more positive and open-minded for future generations. An educated mind is totally different from an educated heart!

So stop, collaborate and listen (Ice Ice Baby)! Every person has a story and a lesson to share with you! Perhaps you would like to listen! Finally, teaching is not a lonely route. We learn from others! 


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