Collaboration is something that is frequently on my mind. If not for teachers that have been willing and welcoming my input none of the projects that I have worked on so far this school year would have been successful. This level of collaboration first and foremost requires trust: the teacher’s trust in my abilities, knowledge, and motivations, my trust in the teacher to allow and value my input, and the student’s trust in me and in the classroom teacher-librarian partnership.
I am two days into student teaching in an elementary school library and I have experienced the importance of collaboration and trust yet again. The teachers feel completely comfortable coming to the school librarian (my cooperating teacher) and asking for input and partnerships on various projects. I find myself being a bit overeager at the prospect of getting in on these collaborations. Yesterday a first grade teacher mentioned getting her students more acquainted with the available print and electronic resources and I immediately jumped in on a scavenger hunt idea. Then today when a 2/3 grade teacher asked for help with a project on frog habitats I was all over it – maybe a little too much. I compiled a list of about eight web links and was instantly forming a mini-lesson in my head on those sources as well as the sources available on the library website. (Was I thinking that I would have the class for half the day?) Fortunately, I realized that I was going overboard and scaled it back to three web links and two resources from the library site. Two classes ended up coming to the library for froggy help, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The librarian started out with a video on habitats from BrainPop Jr., then she and the classroom teachers graciously allowed me to do a little piece on introducing the sources. It worked out really well, but I definitely need to be more patient and build up the trust.
Kim Cofino, in her blog “Always Learning,” talks of the Collaboration Cycle in her post from August 2008 called “Going Full Circle.” She writes of collaboration in terms of mentorship, coaching, and professional development. While that is an extremely important part of teacher collaboration, it seems to me that there is even more to it. When professionals come together to share their ideas there is the potential for a metamorphosis of those individual ideas into something far more superior.
Image attribution: “wind turbines” by the russians are here, http://www.flickr.com/photos/21160932@N05/3349867013