Teacher collaboration can be difficult in the best of situations, but if you are on a fixed schedule this can be even more challenging. When I was working on my Master's degree I took an entire class on collaboration one summer. When I went back to school I was so excited to implement what I learned. I scheduled a meeting with my principal to discuss strategies to increase collaboration with teachers. My principal's solution? To make it mandatory that every teacher collaborated with me at least one time during the school year and to provide documentation to show what we did. Well, I'm sure you can imagine that went over like a lead balloon. One of the biggest issues was that I had no time to meet with teachers. Their planning time was during specials so it was hard to sit down and plan together. And I was not as prepared as I should have been. I should have been armed with a list of specific services I could provide and concrete examples of how we could work together. Luckily my principal forgot about this project and it just fizzled out. But I took what I learned and adapted my approach and thinking. Below are some tips and ideas that I have used and that have worked well for me.
Collaboration: 6 Tips
Finding time to meet and plan out a lesson with teachers is also a huge challenge. There is never enough time in the day to accomplish all the tasks educators have to do. And since you will likely have a different planning time then the teachers this can become even more of an issue. Clear and concise communication will help to make the whole process run smoother.3. Keep in mind that collaboration comes in many different forms. It is not always a complicated research project that will take weeks to complete. It can be simply providing a list of books or digital resources on a topic. Helping a teacher choose a read-aloud or a book set to use in small groups. Or showing students how to search for and find mystery books to complete a genre activity. All of these things are collaboration and they are all important.
Keep Teachers Informed
Menu of Library Services and Resources
I wanted to find a way to show teachers ways that I could support them and assist them with their instruction. So I created a "menu" to hand out at the beginning of the year. I'll be honest and say that I did not come up with this idea on my own, I read about it on social media. But since I started using it I have found it to be a very successful tool. You can include anything you would like in there and you can update it periodically throughout the year. Below is a sample of one I made using Canva. If you haven't used Canva before you have to check it out. It is a free tool that allows you to create thousands of digital and print designs.
And you can't just send something out only at the beginning of the year. Remind teachers periodically about what is going on in the library, the different services you offer and what types of projects and lessons you are working on. Creating a monthly newsletter is one of the best ways to achieve this. There are many different online tools you can use so you can send it electronically. Smore is a great option. It is free but only for a limited number of newsletters. Piktochart and Lucid Press are some other options. You can also create it in Publisher and save it as a .pdf.
How about a freebie?
I created a sample collaboration form for you to download and use. It includes some basic questions a teacher can fill out when they wish to schedule a lesson or project with you. You can edit the question however you need to. I added to the files section of the resource library. You can download it from there.
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What questions do you have about collaboration? Do you have any advice or suggestions to contribute? Let's continue the conversation. Drop a comment or head over to the Staying Cool in the Library private Facebook group. This is a safe place to share and discuss all things library.