By Earl Jones February 18th, 2014, 2:15 PM
As I reflect back on my days in college, one thing that comes to mind is how I became an independent student. I learned to do research on my own. I was able to study for and pass exams by myself. I spent hours doing projects with no help. I’m really proud of how self-reliant I became. Now as a teacher, I’m doing the complete opposite. Every day, I plan, strategize, and teach by collaborating heavily with other teachers.
A few days before the beginning of each unit, I sit down with the other 4th grade teachers at Bancroft Elementary School to plan our unit. For two days, we examine student data, create assessments, map out the overarching knowledge and skills required, write objectives, and plan differentiation. Having other teachers next to me in this planning ensures that all students’ needs are being met and that instructional best practices are being shared. I remember sitting with teachers and practicing scaffold prompts, creating exemplar question responses, and incorporating sixth grade skills and standards to reach my high-flyer students. Because we had the opportunity to collaborate as a team, we were able to plan a solid poetry unit that catered to students at all academic levels.
I’m also in a unique position because I work at Bancroft Elementary, one of few DC schools with two teachers in every classroom. Collaboration with my co-teacher and other teachers on my team is key. Daily, we share resources, plan for small groups, and balance each other’s lessons. It’s important for the students to see that we are on the same page and are both using our efforts to help them grow academically. The benefit for students is that they receive additional help with key skills while also receiving balanced instruction in English and Spanish, in sync with our dual-language model.
I am very grateful that DC Public Schools and Bancroft Elementary, in particular, value teacher collaboration. Through my collaboration, I’ve gained more content knowledge, acquired top-notch resources, and learned to analyze student data critically. Being able to work closely alongside such resourceful and motivated individuals has absolutely helped me to grow as an educator and has without a doubt been valuable to my students.
Earl Jones is a fourth grade teacher at Bancroft Elementary School.