There is a lot of talk these days about being a teacher/leader or creating learning communities where teachers have an opportunity to scaffold with each other. My advice…don’t wait for your building or coworkers to create communities or groups to start modeling collaboration. Take it upon yourself to just go and do those things you want your students to do. I share a classroom with another teacher and I ask him questions all the time during class. It helps me be a more effective teacher and the students get to witness to teachers, collaborating, problem-solving and having fun at their jobs.
Now I know that most teachers are very territorial, don’t like to ask for help, and can’t stand other adults watching them work. I have heard people within education say that, “If you are doing your job right, why be worried about who is watching!” I wish it were that simple of an issue. Politics are an ingrained part of the educational system and it has created teachers that are cynical and wary of why people would want to watch them teach. It happens in my building all of the time. When you approach a colleague, don’t be threatening don’t make it sound like it’s your way or nothing. Honestly, it’s like sneaking up on a squirrel. One wrong step and they will run away and never get near you again.
The best way to be the change you want to see in the world is to involve other teachers in decisions you are making. Want to try a new lesson or activity? Try emailing your building for advice or opinions about your planned activity. Talk to your department head or approach other teachers for guidance in changing things in your classroom. While it is no guarantee, having others involved in changing your classroom may give them the courage, or trust, to let you help them change their classroom. There are so many ways to teach and inspire students. No teacher is perfect, and no teacher can use every methodology available to them in one year.