The Power of Collaboration By: Jodi Hirsch Rein, Gesher JDS Principal
Teacher collaboration increases a school’s ability to impact the students! As a school, we have worked hard to create a shared vision of good teaching, which, in turn has shaped collaboration and changed the professional culture at Gesher JDS. Most people think of professional development as teachers learning from the outside and bringing it back to school. Our teachers, however, are growing each other from within.
A Middle School Professional Learning Community (PLC), which led the charge, has allowed teachers to set aside sacred time to learn together and improve curriculum and instruction. Gesher teachers sought out cross-curricular learning as a way to strengthen student understanding. The work in the Middle School started with a mission statement: We come together collaboratively, with a growth mindset, to develop a multidisciplinary unit of study that will be fun and empower our students to think critically, collaborate with others, develop skills to solve real world problems, and make the connections necessary to realize the collective potential of all learners. With that end goal in mind, the teachers began their work together. Curriculum maps were analysed and a thread of leadership has been woven into multiple subject areas. During this important work teachers also learned how to have discussions surrounding best practices in teaching.
This professional work, inspired other Professional Learning Communities (PLC) to emerge taking on other identified adaptive challenges throughout the building. Through this process, Gesher is growing teacher leaders to enrich and strengthen academics and school culture.
Collaboration does not happen overnight; it requires a significant amount of time and work to ensure its success. This is the work that strengthens Gesher’s teachers, learning from day to day and impacting the entire culture of our school. The product of our work together has created a school environment of trust, support, and passionate teachers.