This is a series of occasional blogs by BESA members and is part of their paid membership service. These views are not necessarily those of BESA and a published blog does not constitute an endorsement.
Collaboration…we all know it is a good idea, but how many of us actually get the time to collaborate with our colleagues?
Professional development is a focus for all teaching staff. It is likely that teachers will have future CPD planned that is in line with your appraisal objectives. However, taking the time to collaborate in peer to peer discussions is not something that everyone plans. Nevertheless, it has the potential to be incredibly enlightening and rewarding. Here we explore five tips to improve collaboration in your school.
We advise you to consider collaborative sessions as free CPD. Many schools that we work with utilise this opportunity to enhance teaching and learning. Sharing best practice helps teachers to consider their delivery and strive to improve their performance. Sharing ideas is the basis of collaboration and we hope that making this a routine for your school will benefit your staff body. Setting time aside for collaboration is strongly advised. For instance, INSET sessions can be dedicated to collaborative work.
Establish a key focus
Sharing best practice, whether it is hints and tips, experience of things that have worked well or information gleaned from a course is powerful. I know from my personal experience in speaking with teachers over the years, that collaborative sessions often work best in smaller groups. I would advise that a key focus is established before the session starts. This enables all colleagues to prepare and not just those responsible for leading the session. Real examples are always really good to use and give context to the best practice that you are trying to share.
It is a good idea to have a dedicated note taker, as session information can then be shared with the group afterwards, as well as with other colleagues across the school. This helps give a real sense of purpose to the discussion. Structure has a danger of stifling some collaboration as spontaneity is lost. However, dedicated collaborative sessions help to instil a collaborative culture in your school. This is also prevalent in a multi-academy trust, where best practice can be shared as colleagues from different academies are given opportunities to meet and discuss their ideas.
Be open minded
Some colleagues may not welcome the opportunity to collaborate. For instance, very experienced staff might be disengaged with the thought of working with younger colleagues who have different subject specialisms. Inevitably, this provides some headaches for leadership teams. With this in mind, any collaborative initiative must be clearly explained to the staff body prior to launch. Gathering the thoughts of colleagues who you think may not be onboard is recommended beforehand. This should make them feel part of the process and help to develop an open mindset amongst your staff body. What you will mostly find is that teachers are passionate about teaching young people and conversations concerning collaboration won’t be long enough!
Whether you are looking to schedule a collaborative session, add it as part of your CPD within your professional development profile or share best practice online, our software can help. SchooliP is online performance management software which supports all school staff to effectively work in collaboration. It enables knowledge to be quickly shared to enhance skill sets and acts as a collaborative portal. SchooliP is the simplest and most effective way to manage teacher and staff appraisals in schools. Collaboration can quickly become part of your staff culture which will help to elevate the status of professional development and drive school improvement.
Sharing best practice helps to drive continuous improvement. If you would like to find out more how SchooliP could assist your school, please do get in touch. Our sales team are available on 0333 0433 450 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to arrange a demonstration of SchooliP, please click here.
If you are already a SchooliP customer, please remember that we have a vast array of support options available to you. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our customer care team by calling 0333 0433 450 or via email: email@example.com.