Today I got a LOT of work done. Our school is doing student led conferences soon, which is currently a lot of work for us as teachers because it is only the second time we have run the conferences, and a lot of the preparation work is falling on our shoulders. Hopefully this will change in the future. Anyway, the reason I got so much work done is because another one of my colleagues saw me working late at school last night, and when he found out the reason why, he volunteered to cover one of my classes for me today. So I had an extra 90 minutes to work on grading my assignments, and my students got to practice learning material from their textbooks. Not an ideal substitute lesson plan, but I did really use the extra time effectively, so I don’t feel too guilty.
It occurred to me that there are a lot of schools where the staff don’t support each other as well as they could. Some schools have administrators and staff which are downright unprofessional, and everyday I go to work, I’m glad I’m working with fellow professionals. This kind of give and take is extremely important, not just because it helps us out from time to time but because it establishes a culture of respect and mutual support in the school.
I’ll happily volunteer to co-teach with another teacher when they are planning a technology heavy lesson, or cover someone’s class so they can go to a conference. I know that they would do the same for me, and by giving each other mutual support, we all win.
If I worked in a school culture which does not accept that teachers need to be flexible and willing to provide support to each other, then I would be extremely unhappy. I worked in a culture like this a few years ago in NYC, at least at the administrative level, and it was a nightmare. Although my colleagues tried their best to be totally supportive, they were constrained by a system which had no flexibility, and no creativity provided by our school administrators.
I also met with teachers about different projects we are working on at three different times during the day, for three different issues. It was really nice to have a quick 5 or 10 minute meeting and just manage to plan and collaborate so easily. It would be nice if our school day fit more breaks into the schedule so we could meet more often, but I really appreciate working with people for whom working with other teachers comes so easily. These tiny meetings helped clear up a bunch of potential problems and laid the ground-work for some very exciting projects in the future.