The word “collaboration” can often have a messy connotation. To some, that five-syllable word is associated with confusion. It can be loud, unstructured, overcrowded, and things rarely resolve perfectly when collaboration is involved.
That having been said, collaboration is also a core value of teachers at Voyager Academy High School. We not only require it of our students, but we practice it professionally.
At our campus in Durham, N.C., teachers work in Critical Friends groups twice a week to share ideas, debrief projects and lessons, discuss pedagogy and encourage cross-curricular teaching.
But just having these collaborative groups in place doesn’t mean they always work as well as we want. And even when they do, it doesn’t mean we always get the results in the classroom that we desire. The values are there, and the system is in place, but — as is often the case — more needs to be done.
As such, we brought a team of five teachers to Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center with the goal of improving our Critical Friends groups. Of course, we knew that was our goal, but that didn’t mean that we were able to articulate that to anyone else. And the irony did not escape us that we needed outside collaboration to help us realize that our goal of providing more effective collaboration. Eagle Rock gave us the place and the people necessary to achieve that goal.
Simply getting off our campus and isolating ourselves in the school was a start. A change of venue, a library of professional development resources, and quite frankly, a gorgeous Continue reading…