After reading an article about the four Cs for learning (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking), that was about student learning and ways to enhance and support it, I reflected a bit on my own learning.
Sometimes our minds make unexpected connections and mine wandered off to thinking about our professional teams, how we collaborate and how the four Cs might help our own growth.
I look at this list of 4Cs through the lens of an EAL specialist who has to work with two different teams of homeroom teachers. There are six very different colleagues I have to collaboratively teach with. We have to be effective in our collaboration and absolutely must build a rapport with each other as the progress of our ELLs depends on this. We know about all the challenges our EAL students have to face and by no means want to add to the list. My job is to support and scaffold and in order to be successful in these tasks and help my students enjoy their school life, I need to team up with their classroom teachers.
As educators we also have to collaborate with various groups of colleagues during the school year and develop our creative collaborative teaching abilities because it is one of the most important professional skills in our field. Our new inquiry SPELTAC group is yet a new circle we have to be professionally productive within.
In an ever evolving international environment we all are in the same boat in terms of having to deal with meeting and working with various cultures, personality types and professional ethics, while the team members change every year.
I decided to share some of my ideas and strategies that have worked throughout my time at ISPP for getting the most out of this ongoing process of exchange and enrichment.
Here is how I am applying the 4 Cs with my teams and would be very interested to learn about what works for you.
Here are the magic Cs that I personally found very helpful:
Communication is the fundamental value for any team. Without communication, team members have no idea where other members are, and cannot adapt to the changing situations in the classroom. In interpersonal relationships be thoughtful but honest and talk about issues, vibes, looks and whatever else bothers you. Be an effective listener. Do not forget about the cultural background of your team members. Learn more about each other’s cultures. Be open about your own mistakes and considerate about the mistakes of others. Lots of teachers share the thinking that the most important trait for effective team teaching is the ability to laugh. Enjoy laughing together.
As if we did not read and hear enough about it… And still – plan together, share and discuss resources and strategies. Work positively and ethically;
Be open-minded and time conscious when planning. Share your opinion with the team. Be flexible but at the same time focus on the goals and determine what must be done to achieve the team goals. Find out about the experts on your team and learn from each other. Reflect on the flop lessons/projects and see your mistakes as a way to grow.
Creativity is bound to be a force of good. In order to be effective educators and collaborators we must be creative. That is the most enjoyable and yet demanding part of co-teaching. Everybody has tremendous creative capacities.
We all should believe in our own creativity and the creativity of others, be risk-takers and appreciate constructive criticism.
Creativity helps us to solve difficult problems, ask better questions, discover and invent possible answers. Creativity of the team is enhanced by collaborative knowledge sharing practices. Most original thinking comes through collaboration and through the stimulation of other people’s ideas. So there’s no doubt that collaboration, diversity, the exchange of ideas, and building on other people’s achievements are at the heart of the creative process.
In order to achieve our own best work at a personal level we should connect with a particular medium or set of materials or processes that excite us. We need to find something that resonated with us, that we have a personal aptitude for. If it does not happen naturally work on it! Practice seeing positive (useful, exciting, insightful) features in every task you do.
If you combine a personal aptitude with a passion for that same thing, then you go into a different place creatively.
Each PYP teacher should be an expert in applying these skills and yet many of us do not live what we preach because it is a challenging task. Analyze your relationship with your colleagues. Develop your ability for reasoning (you will be surprised how quickly people will then agree with your plan). Solve problems and make decisions using the balanced approach of changing hats, leading and following as required. Focus on moral values when you have to make decisions. Always evaluate and reflect to correct your mistakes or celebrate your successes.
Here is my thinking on how we can support each other during our team teaching and team planning. Do you have your own recipe for success? Please share your knowledge with us!