1. One type of relationship is like toddlers playing in a sandbox in what we call "parallel play." They don't really bother each other, but they share the space. That doesn't mean they necessarily share the toys, and they really know very little about what the other is doing. Teachers who teach in this dynamic close their doors and actually know very little about one another's professional lives.
2. Another type is the kind where teachers are very social with one another, extending outside of school hours. The friendship is purely social, but rarely extends into talking shop, because the teachers secretly fear that engaging in professional conversation might lead to disagreement that might threaten the friendship.
3. A third kind of relationship is a cordial one, in which teachers are kind to one another, but actually harbor a hidden hostility toward one another. The hostility can be caused by things like professional jealousy, competition, and deeply rooted philosophical differences that are never really discussed, just often assumed.
4. The fourth kind of relationship is one in which teachers talk about their practices frequently, study their work together, and are comfortable teaching in front of one another, giving each other collegial, friendly and professional feedback. Barth tells us that schools in which this culture exists have the greatest success!
These four models exist in the microcosm of a school, but also on a larger scale, in districts and even across districts. Larger schools can even have combinations of these models within their halls, as smaller communities emerge from the ranks of the entire school.
1. Start up the study of a professional text and create a follow up in real time. You might read about a methodology or some new lessons and then try them out in your rooms, preferably with one another. The followup part is very important, because if you don't do it, you're skirting just above the level of parallel play. Without a little bit of vulnerability, it's easy to talk the talk without really living it.
2. Visit each other's rooms after school and look around with a particular lens with a friendly, yet critical eye. This can be done with a very general checklist that will help you look at your word wall, your learning charts, your library, or your general room arrangement. When you see something you feel you might not agree with, phrase your query in the form of a question, or an "I wonder" statement (I wonder why your word wall is so high up...). Pay the room a compliment. It's very important that you act on your neighbor's advice, making a change based on something in the conversation. This will turn the visit into action and ongoing reflection. (I'll have another post on this topic soon!)
3. Teach in front of each other. Try out tennis match conferring. This means you take turns in conferring. One person teaches while the other watches and notices. Then switch. At the end of the period, self-assign a next step of something you'll practice in your own room on your own before you meet again.