Another post on this site, “What is True Arts Integration” sparked a little bit of dialogue and last night I was replying to the comments that had been made. While doing so, I found an important key concept in arts integration ringing through – Collaboration.
Collaboration has been discussed here and on other blogs (and articles and books) time and again. I would like to focus on how collaboration between educators can be helpful as we work to integrate subject areas together, making learning experiences more meaningful to our students (and ourselves!)
A field hockey “mantra” I became very familiar with in high school was, “Communication is the key to success.” It is so true. If you want a team to work well together, then you need to communicate well. Well, in our team of teachers, Collaboration is another key to success. We cannot all be experts at everything. We cannot work as if we live on an island. We have to allow other teachers into our spaces so that we can work more efficiently and effectively for our students. As Victoria Riehle said in her comment, “Open the doors, forget about the bell, let multiple subjects happen at one time and watch the light bulbs go off!”
Sometimes there is the desire in a teacher to integrate, but the skill level is just not there. Again Collaboration is the key. When we do not know what direction to take, we need to seek out the expertise of our colleagues. There is so much talent within our school walls. We must feel comfortable and open enough to reach out to one another and exchange what we have to offer.
Even when I feel I have a good or even great idea for an integration lesson, there is always more that can be done. I am limited by my own experiences, but when I am open to recieving the knowledge of others (including other teachers and also my students) some great extensions can occur in the classroom. After reading an activity idea on my post about True Arts Integration, Dawn offered an artistic extension to the lesson using color and design. It was a perfect example of how working together can only improve the original idea and enrich the experience as a whole.
I will often find myself coming up with an idea and then protecting it. It’s mine! This happens a lot in schools, but is not how education should be. (And this is what I fear will happen more often if merit pay becomes part of our education system.) Instead, a community of educators must also be a community of learners and therefore a community of collaborators.
How do you collaborate with your colleagues?