I ended my last blog with observations about some of the collaboration that occurs between our biology teachers. Before Spring Break our Spanish teachers (Luisa Haynes, Ashley Watson, and Sara Dunham) allowed me the pleasure of observing collaboration in their department.

They learned together.
My involvement began with an hour-long training CPS training session the entire department, including Walt Spencer and Mike Lupo, scheduled with me. This training led to some consensus on the usefulness of the device and to an agreement about building a database of review questions using Exam View software.

They planned together.
On our recent work day, the three Spanish teachers spent several hours tackling a common problem. Their students tend to struggle to master directions (left, right, up down) in context, so they collaborated on a scavenger hunt that led pairs of students to different locations throughout the school. As a trio they decided how to ensure student success and avoid disciplinary infractions. They created instruction cards and passes and X’s to mark the spot. They tackled every foreseeable problem.

They taught together.
Haynes, Watson and Dunham agreed that all nine sections of Spanish—all three levels—would participate in the scavenger hunt. They also knew that they had some individual instruction they had to deliver and some review they wanted to do, so they devised a plan. I saw this plan in action fourth period on Friday, just ninety minutes before Spring Break. Ms. Dunham’s students began with a review and practice, while Ms. Haynes’s students completed the scavenger hunt. Then Dunham’s students completed the hunt, while Haynes’s finished presenting a project. Then both classes met in Ms. Watson’s room. Watson, who had just finished her planning period hall duty, set up and delivered a review session using CPS.

Giddy and distracted as students might have been that day, they were highly engaged in academic content. Had their teachers not worked so diligently and collaborated so thoughtfully, I’m sure they would have reviewed and practiced, and generally complained about having to do work with sunny freedom awaiting them. Instead, they learned.

If your department has any collaboration stories to share, post them as comments. And if you want help from the instructional coach on any collaborative projects, send me an e-mail.

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