Uinta County School District #1
Weekly Newsletter, January 2018-Vol. 10
THE 3 MISCONCEPTIONS OF COLLABORATION by Greg Kushnir
Every year Solution Tree hosts PLC Institutes attended by thousands of educators from all over the world and these events are often transformational experiences for the educators who attend. I speak from experience as I had my educational epiphany the first time I saw Dr. Rick DuFour speak about the PLC process 16 years ago.
The enthusiasm in the room is contagious as educators learn about how to build a collaborative culture focused on ensuring high levels of learning for all students. At the end of the events, educators return home, armed with new knowledge to pass on to their colleagues and a renewed sense of hope in the art of the possible. A guiding coalition is formed, teachers are placed in collaborative teams, and the work begins.
What could go wrong? Unfortunately, what often plays out is that the renewed enthusiasm is quickly eroded because educators charged with implementing the PLC process succumb to the misconceptions of collaboration.
MISCONCEPTION #2: Teachers Know What To Collaborate About
I often have school principals question the need to have teams commit to answering the four questions when they collaborate. After all, teachers are professionals, they tell me, and professionals know what they need to do. I wish this were true.
Unfortunately, the reality is most teachers equate collaboration with sharing. When I present to rooms full of educators I joking tell them that our inability to effectively collaborate can be blamed on kindergarten teachers. After all, they are the wonderful people who taught us that sharing is a good thing. I usually follow that statement by telling them that sharing is the death of effective collaboration. As confusion fills the room I explain the difference between sharing and building shared knowledge.
The problem with sharing is that there is no requirement to change practice. If I sit at a table with a teacher who shares their “greatest lesson of all time” with me I will respond the same way that most human beings will. I will thank them for their kindness and let them know that I will use this when I get to that section of the curriculum. Upon returning to my classroom I will place it gently on the shelf never to be looked at again.
This response is extremely logical. After all, it is polite to show gratitude toward our colleague for caring enough to share their work, which is why we thank them. The reason we are unlikely to use the lesson is that we didn’t participate in its creation. The creative process greatly increases ownership and understanding. In other words, when we create, we naturally feel ownership for the product and as a result, we also have context for how to use it. Simply sharing ideas does not build a sense of accountability, and as a result, teacher practice is unlikely to change.
Building shared knowledge is the exact opposite. For a team to commit to a course of action all members must participate in the creation of a shared product and purpose. To build shared knowledge, a team of teachers would each bring their best thinking to the table to discuss and dissect each idea in a process of learning together. The product or course of action they decide on will represent new knowledge and a commitment to move forward as a team. Everyone will understand what is expected of them to accomplish their shared goal.
The importance of building shared knowledge is exactly why successful teams focus on the four questions of a PLC. To successfully answer these questions a team must work interdependently toward a common goal to which they will feel mutually accountable. Only when this level of cognition is achieved can a team hope to become highly effective.(Related Blog: Don’t Mistake Simple Sharing for Collective Action)
2ND ANNUAL AUTHOR EVENT THIS THURSDAY!!
Share something about someone in the district who is doing an outstanding job by clicking the button above, or by sending an email to Alicia at email@example.com.
-IMPORTANT STAFF NEWS-
Seniority Lists are at each building with the building secretary. Please stop by and add your initials no later than January 31st.
THE 100 GRATITUDE CHALLENGE
Cheri Dunford, Supt., Board Exec. Assistant Ext. 1021
Dr. Joseph Ingalls, Assistant Superintendent K-5 Ext. 1026
Doug Rigby, Assistant Superintendent 6-12 Ext. 1025
Alicia Johnson, Instructional Services Admin. Asst. Ext. 1024
Kristine Hayduk, Human Resources Ext. 1023
Matt Williams, SPED Director Ext. 1040
Shannon Arellanes, SPED Admin. Asst. Ext. 1041
Bubba O'Neill, Activities Director Ext. 1060
Dauna Bruce, Activities Admin. Asst. Ext. 1061