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What Makes Teacher Collaboration Work?

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From my own experience, I have to have a 'leg in the race' in order for the collaboration to be effective. As a teacher in a resource classroom, I had to meet with 4th grade teachers for the sole reason that my students went to specials with this grade. I am trying to teach my students methods of communication that did not include punching me or how to be as independent as possible when washing their hands, not advanced writing techniques. For me, that was a waste of a planning period for me. However, when I am able to meet with fellow Severe/Profound teachers from the county or state, a full day does not seem long enough to collaborate.

Working as a special education teacher both forces and allows me the opportunity for collaboration with my colleges. For the most part I feel that collaborating with the other professionals that I work with is well worth the effort and time because I do see the positive results of those efforts in the classroom through student growth and progression. So I guess I would say that collaboration works, but there is a very important point made in this blog that I must address…”teachers improve student learning more when they are working with more able colleagues…a positive relationship between teachers’ social capital, as measured by the strength and number of their social ties, and student achievement”. Yes, yes, and yes! In my experience I have found that collaboration can in fact be very effective and help to yield positive results but it all depends on who is doing the collaborating. If I am working with other like-minded professionals that share common goals and ideals then it is much more likely that I will see the desired results that I am looking for. On the other hand if I am working with other professionals who do not view the classroom, apply curriculum, and create goals similar to mine then the results can vary greatly. Case in point, I recently had to work with a long-term substitute teacher. While I admired her classroom management as far as behavior was concerned, her views of special education made life almost unbearable for those few months. She did not see the inclusion classroom as it is today. She still believed that students with special needs should either be in the general education classroom without any accommodations or modifications that would in her opinion disrupt the flow of the class or they should be removed from the classroom all together to receive any supports that they would need an then return once they have received them. Needless to say this made for a long five months. When I am able to work with other general education teachers under one of the co-teaching models, collaborating in full swing, it is a beautiful thing and students do progress. Therefor in my opinion if you want to see growth and progression for these students in any subject area be it reading, math, science, or social studies effective collaboration with like-minded professionals is critical.

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