Being expected to collaborate with other teachers

Discussion in 'General Education' started by applesnap, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

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    Nov 15, 2017

    I teach high school chemistry along with two other people. In our school, teachers with the same assignment are expected to work together closely. Our admin doesn't want students complaining about being in the "bad" teacher's class, so they have asked us to make sure our classrooms are similar.

    We got in trouble for not collaborating enough. We do chat about things we are doing in our classrooms, and we make sure to do all the same labs and the same unit exams. We all teach the same content (because we are all following the curriculum!) but we each have our own course notes.

    We all have different teaching philosophies too - I personally do not believe in giving many assignments for marks, because I find the kids copy off the top student, get 100%, and then I spend forever marking something that doesn't really show what the students know. I give many assignments that are for the kids to practice, I just don't mark them. Instead I mark lots of quizzes. But, my teammates don't agree and prefer to assess using mainly assignments (and I think their grades are inflated, to be honest. At the end of the year the students write a government exam and we will get in trouble if their grades are inflated).

    I feel like we are being asked to work together to an unreasonable degree. I need to be able to give a small quiz when I feel like it without consulting other people. I need to teach in a way that aligns with my own teaching philosophy. Am I out of line here? What would you recommend doing moving forward? I don't want to be getting on the bad side of my admin for the rest of the school year.
     
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  3. svassillion

    svassillion Companion

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    Nov 16, 2017

    I can see where the admin is coming from, but I completely agree with you. I'm in a similar situation where my P wanted me and my grade level partner to be more on the same page (because she got a lot of parent complaints last year), but I eventually had to just tell her I didn't want to plan together. We too have very opposite teaching styles and philosophies which is a huge road block in co-planning. I'm more into project-based learning and she's more by the book. My P wanted her to incorporate more of my projects into her room but she had no idea where to start and after I would try to explain and give her detailed lesson plans she would try to avoid any of the planning or work by asking me to do everything and then hand it over to her. This wasn't going to happen because it's already time consuming to prep for one class. Each group is also different so a lesson for one class may need a lot of adjustments to meet another class. My P understands my position, but I know not all admins would be as willing to bend so without knowing your admin, you may just have to appease their wishes.

    IMO though, I think what you and your colleagues are doing is the best way. Same scope and sequence with the same summative assessments. Lock-step teaching seems too over the top for me and doesn't respect a teacher's individuality and style. Teachers need to feel comfortable with the way they teach rather than try to make it uniform- that just sounds boring.
     
  4. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Nov 16, 2017

    I would recommend you work with your colleagues. It does sound like your classes are too different. You identified that grades in your class are different than they are in your colleagues classes. I would ask your administrator if they could attend your next meeting so you can try to work this out. If you have concerns about Government assessments, then as a team you need to talk about that. Kids should not have significantly different grades depending on their teacher and it sounds like if you are using mostly quizzes that there isn't enough differentiation of assessment happening. If the assignments your team is using are set up so students can copy you might want to consider a wider variety of assignments that are done in class, but having a heavy focus on quizzes/tests doesn't seem like the optimal solution either. I also think that we can't rely on this idea that we have different teaching philosophies. We need to do what is best for kids and sometimes that means changing how we teach so we can't be too attached to one philosophy/ way of teaching.
     
  5. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    Nov 16, 2017

    I can see both sides of the argument but it’s silly if you wanted to do a quiz and can’t because it’s not in the master plan.
    However, to mitigate the “inflation” of grades, one solution could be to moderate the assignments - swap a few assessments without letting each other know what grade you have given. If you are all giving the same grades then it’s a good sign.
     
  6. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Nov 17, 2017

    I once worked for a P who wanted all grade level classes (9 classrooms at my grade level) to be on the same lesson at the same time with the same activity. She wanted to walk through the hall and visit each classroom to see the same thing going on. That worked REALLY well for my SPED class and the gifted class at the same time.
    It took us a while, but we finally convinced her of our different needs that needed to be met with different instructional strategies and she allowed us to each be on the same topic at the same time. Small concession, but made it easier to teach.

    Sometimes you have to work with the P in tiny little baby steps so they don't realize you are guiding them to to the best teaching scenario for you, yet making them feel that they are still micromanaging!
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Nov 17, 2017

    I think you and your colleagues need to have those hard discussions. We do that all the time in our department. If you think their grades are inflated, they should know. We are almost 100% the same in our math department for each course level (obviously honors and CP are different!) I think the days of working in isolation in your room are a thing of the past.

    That said, admin needs to provide guidance. For instance, our whole department is required to do 20% for homework/classwork and 80% for tests/quizzes, so your principal should be providing guidance as far as that's concerned.
     
  8. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 18, 2017

    I don't see both sides. I don't agree with the admin at all. Seems to me like he is far more concerned about pandering to parents than he is about actual learning.
     

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