Buzzwords. We all hear them. We all roll our eyes at them.
One has stuck with me. Collaboration. I’ve always been a do-it-yourself kind of gal, but with technology integration and project-based learning, collaboration is a must. So, how can one effectively collaborate with every teacher?
1. Find out what they’re teaching.
This one can be tricky. School librarians don’t always see teachers, and if we do, it’s for a fleeting moment in passing in the hallway, bathroom line, or at the vending machine. Try shooting out a quick email every few weeks asking what topics teachers are touching on or are approaching. I was apprehensive the first time I did this. I thought “nobody is going to reply”. Boy, was I wrong! My inbox was flooded with replies.
2. Ask the students.
Students know what they’re learning in class, what they’re struggling with, and what they WANT to learn more about. Ask them! My favorite lessons have stemmed from students asking to learn more about a topic from class.
3. Work with non-classroom teachers.
You’ll be surprised how appreciative non-classroom teachers are for a request to collaborate. Music. Art. Dance. These teachers don’t always have a buddy to collaborate with on lessons. Their classes lend themselves fabulously with nonfiction!
4. Share Professional Development with them.
I just spent two days in a professional development workshop about Arkansas History. The session is posted to school librarians, and we are encouraged to bring teachers with us. Last year, I had one teacher attend with me. This year, two teachers went. We were planning lessons and fun projects the entire time. Inviting teachers to sessions that will benefit both of you will provide a great foundation for collaboration.
5. Visit their classrooms.
Whenever I’m running an errand, I try to pop my head into different classrooms. I stay in the back and just watch. It’s a great way to see how teachers handle their classroom, their teaching styles, and even more important, what they’re teaching. Even if you’re only in the classroom for a few minutes, you can gain tons of insight into what topics are being discussed. If you don’t have time to stop into the classroom itself, check out the student’s work in the hallway. It may be the culminating work that is displayed, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be taken even further in the library.
Collaboration doesn’t have to be a laborious act. One of the best collaborations I did this year happened by accident (read about it here) and was tied neatly together with a speech from the President of the United States. Being spontaneous and flexible is a necessity for successful collaboration. Don’t be afraid to drop what you’re doing to collaborate with a teacher. I promise, the students will get so much more out of the lesson when everyone is working together.
Author: Ashley Cooksey
Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.