A Culture That Obstructs Collaboration

Teaching can be isolating, with overwhelming responsibilities and very little structured time for collaboration. This inhibits innovation.

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I went into teaching because I wanted to work with others to create engaging, challenging projects that kids could dive into. But I found it really difficult to find time (or interested colleagues) to collaborate.

For a while I blamed myself - maybe I was doing something wrong, maybe I should just be content running my own class, and my colleagues - why couldn't they see the value in sharing ideas, reflecting together on our students' work, brainstorming new possibilities?

But I increasingly became aware of all of the structural impediments that make it very difficult to collaborate: teachers have overwhelming responsibilities - from the number of students we need to teach and reach each day, to state standards that often still put content coverage ahead of deeper learning, to a daily schedule that limits a teacher's planning time and often makes it impossible to get together with colleagues until after school, when most of us are rushing home to take care of our own kids or other responsibilities.

In my 7 years of public school teaching and 7 additional years in curriculum and professional development, I saw again and again how hard it is to bring people together, not just for a meeting here or there, but on a regular basis, to establish a working culture of sharing work and ideas and collaborating to build better units and projects and improve instructional practices for our kids. 

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