Given everything on their plates, it can be an added challenge for teachers to meaningfully collaborate across different subject areas. But with high, consistent standards, schools have an even greater opportunity to share ideas between teachers within their district, around the state, and even across state lines.
In many schools, barriers to collaboration are straightforward. “There is no communication of what is happening in other classrooms and no discussion of what students should be learning or their individual growth,” writes Sarah Inendino, the general music teacher and chorus director at Pleasant Ridge School in Glenview, Illinois.
As a music educator, Sarah was able to see first-hand how (pardon the pun) instrumental music education is in students’ development. She and her colleagues found that technology helped make their collaboration “seamless,” allowing them to meet at non-traditional times and more easily share data.
But this type of successful collaboration isn’t specific to music education.
Eric Slifstein, a P.E. teacher in New York, also wrote on the importance of encouraging collaboration across subjects, in an Educators for High Standards piece last year.
“Within schools, educators are encouraging students to apply skills across subjects and helping to reinforce foundational skills by integrating concepts from one class to the next,” said Slifstein. “In physical education classes we are able to bolster many concepts through lively, hands-on activities… What’s more, for many students who struggle with concepts on paper, applying them to physical activity often helps make it ‘click.’”
It’s clear that teachers are finding ways to collaborate and to share best practices. “Cross-promotion” of concepts and ideas allow teachers to implement strategies that lead to the “exploration and discovery when students first make a connection between subjects, and the way they are able to transfer skills and develop deeper levels” of understanding. These activities can help educators improve their practice and unlock students’ full potential.
True integration and meaningful collaboration takes time and patience to develop, but – as teachers like Sarah and Eric have shown us – is worth the effort.