“Reflections” on Collaboration and Peer Review

EDU 6600–Communication and Collaboration Blog for Week 6:

This week, as I have reflected on your own needs as a professional, considered the readings from last week and this week, and thought about the type of collaboration model that best meets my needs within my school at this time —I would have to select the Lesson Study approach. As described in Zepeda, Chapter 10, the Lesson Study Process involves four major steps: 1)Study curriculum and formulate goals, 2) Plan, 3)Conduct research, and  4)Reflect (Lewis, Perry, & Murata, 2006).

As in noted in both this week’s presentation and the featured vignette with teachers Bill and Sally, building content knowledge through collaboration is of utmost importance. For me personally, a very specific case-in-point took place this week within my school and surrounded my experience as a participant in a webinar which provided training to math teachers on the newly adopted online curriculum resources purchased by the district. Although math is not my area of expertise, I elected to take part in the webinar to increase both my content knowledge and ability to collaborate with the math teachers on behalf of the special education students whom we share. The major training had taken place in August and this week’s webinar was a follow-up, question and answer opportunity. I was one of two special education teachers amongst a handful of math teachers. I was definitely out of my comfort zone with regard to content, however, since the group was small and the primary focus was on student and teacher access of the materials and navigation of program and system—I was comfortable in asking
questions.  I am grateful that the math teachers with whom I will be collaborating most frequently (those who happen to have the greatest number of special education students), also have strong “Bill-like” qualities. Their strong knowledge in their subject matter and effectiveness in the classroom is balanced by an obvious commitment to support the growth of others. I am hopeful that in the weeks and months ahead, I will remain open to learning new teaching strategies that will benefit my students.

In reference to the vignette with teachers Bill and Sally, I noticed that one colleague stated in his post that “…showing Sally a system of problem solving…” was a major element which
contributed to the successful collaboration described in this vignette. I agree that our students need to understand what we as educators experience on a daily basis–that life is not about “knowing the right answers”, but rather, about continuous problem solving. In our readings this week, Zepeda in chapter 10, cites the following: “…’enduring understandings’ that a
school wants their students to have…abilities related to problem-solving, communication, and civility (Wiburg & Brown, 2006, p.5)” (p. 253).

Throughout the discussion threads this week, a number of people commented on the value of “reflection”. I find this part of the collaboration process to be the most helpful to me, personally. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I need that extra “think” time before I can effectively evaluate.

In this week’s reading in Chapter 10, Zepeda states the following: “The fourth stage of the lesson study cycle is reflection….During this reflection time, data should be used to explore and
uncover concerns, new information, or celebrations” (p. 250). The celebrations, of course, are the most enjoyable!

Lastly, having now engaged in my first experience with the “peer review” process, I can now “reflect” and still agree with the thoughts I posted to two colleagues a couple of days ago: “Referring to the word ‘empower’, I couldn’t help but think of the peer-review process that we
will all be engaging in as a class in the next couple of weeks. Looking at this week’s guidelines in the peer-review rubric, I am hopeful that reaching the goal of the ‘Valence and specificity’ section which states: ‘I combined specific suggestions with a positively framed suggestion of what could be done’–will serve to empower each person and build individual confidence, as well as underscore the benefits of collaboration”.

Teacher Leadership Skills Framework, retrieved on October 31, 2011 from: https://learn.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-701565-dt-content-rid-123380_1/courses/EDU6600_9479201121/teacher_leadership_skills_framework.pdf

Zepeda, S. (2008). Professional Development: What Works.
New York: Eye on Education.

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