Prompt: How can teachers best learn from other teachers?
A lot of individuals go into teaching thinking they'll just be interacting with kids all day. However, that's far from the case. The adults in the building, your colleagues, are a pivotal part of building a positive, collaborative environment in order for students in your school to flourish. With the absence of collaborative efforts, students begin to see the negative culture being built between the staff in the school and start assimilating that behavior. This is everything we want to avoid as educators. So how do we do that?
As a teacher you begin to learn more about your teaching positives and challenges once you start breaking down the brick and mortar walls of your classroom. Small steps can be taken by collaborating with an individual in your building that has skills you wish for students to acquire, yet you don't feel professionally capable of providing. For instance, I am capable of writing, but I am not an expert at examining students' work, helping them pull it apart, and form a coherent piece of work that still reflects their personality and writing style. That's where our librarian, who was formally one of our english teachers, comes in. By working together, students get a solid science background all while working through the writing process with an expert in their field. Through these collaborative efforts, as teachers, we begin to learn about each others' teaching styles, strategies to help students in content areas, and really reflect on what are the best methods for our students.
I'll admit, I am better at collaborating with individuals outside my school, but that's not always a bad thing. With a growing Professional Learning Network (PLN) I'd be silly not to take steps to further my practice through interactions with those who are doing what I'd like to be doing. One of the best ways to learn from these teachers is to begin sharing what you are doing or want to be doing and asking a lot of questions. When you begin interacting with individuals, collaborative relationships form, and students benefit. The best learning comes from others' challenging your ideas and pushing you to think about the positives and negatives of what you are trying to achieve. As an educator, you have to be willing to take the steps towards learning in order to achieve the greatest learning results from other teachers. We ask the same of our students everyday, why not ask it of ourselves too?