E2 – Exemplify collaboration within the school.
Teacher-candidates participate collaboratively and professionally in school activities and using appropriate and respectful verbal and written communication. In other words, it is important for teachers to intentionally and professionally work together in school activities. After working at my elementary school, I have seen that the school staff is a team that, when most successful, is continually referring to one another for ideas, explanation, and clarification.
My evidence for this particular principle is a MDT form submitted for a student in my classroom. Each week, an MDT or Multi-Disciplinary Team meets to discuss a student for which a teacher has particular concerns about his or her academic or social development. After the classroom teacher completes the MDT form, the form is processed with the special education specialist, who organizes and sets a date for a meeting. For this particular student, I met with the principal, school psychologist, special education specialist, classroom teacher, and the student’s mother. During this meeting, we discussed concerns about this student’s struggle with math and writing as well as his many absences during the school year. I completed this MDT form with my teacher, which was used to guide discussion with the rest of the team.
This form demonstrates competency in the E2 standard for two reasons. First, I collaborated with my mentor teacher to complete this form, discussing our interpretations of the students’ strengths and weaknesses and also working together to compile student work samples to share at the meeting. Second, this form was used to guide a collaborative discussion among school staff. Participating in this MDT meeting gave me vital experience for working with colleagues as well as parents to discuss interpretations of student behavior as well as solutions for intervention.
Completing this form and participating in the MDT meeting was a multi-faceted learning experience. I first learned the school’s procedure for requesting intervention for an individual student, which included locating the form in the office, tracking student data, identifying student work samples, and discussing concerns among a team. Most significantly, however, I learned the value of collaborating to discuss student intervention. Multiple bodies means multiple perspectives, and each staff member offered a unique approach to finding student solutions based on his or her area of expertise. Additionally, several staff members even shared from personal experience, offering anecdotes of working with their own children as parents. As a result, an engaging and multi-dimensional discussion emerged, and my own perspective of the student and his specific challenges shifted as a result. Teaching, I realized, is a team effort, and in order to be successful, I must use my colleagues as valuable resources of help and perspective.
Collaborating is not only beneficial for augmenting my own comfortability in the classroom; it is also vital for fostering the success of my students. When teachers and staff collaborate to address student needs, there is a far better chance that that student will be serviced in full capacity. Additionally, collaborating means not only more resources for the teacher but also for the student. For example, the student who was the subject of this MDT meeting subsequently received numerous tools such as a special seat and a timer from the special education specialist, offering this student a greater opportunities for success.
Though this MDT meeting was one example of my competency in the E2 principle, I plan to take several steps to develop in domain of teaching. I plan to continue to participate in Professional Learning Communities, which take place after school with grade band teachers. Additionally, I plan to become more intentional about communicating with other teachers throughout the day, specifically special education teachers. Several of my students on IEP and 504 plans are pulled from my classroom for additional instruction. I would like to start having weekly dialogues with the teachers facilitating this instruction in order to better collaborate on those students’ needs within and outside of the classroom.