Jun 08

Collaboration is Key

Introduction

Collaboration is an essential element to teaching, learning, and school success for all stakeholders involved in the school on all levels and in all areas. “Regularly scheduled teacher collaboration positively affects teacher instructional practices by impacting teacher learning, student learning and by creating and sustaining a culture of shared learning” (Lanich, 2009). Collaboration creates a team approach in which teachers must work together to create positive learning experiences for students by gaining information, knowledge, and feedback from education partners as well as students. Teachers must involve students in the planning process to include their interests and learning styles. When students are interested in lesson topics and ideas, they are motivated to participate and achieve desired learning outcomes and goals. Creating a team approach allows teachers to encourage problem solving skills and disciplines and increases student motivation and ownership of the classroom problem. Collaborative efforts allow students to share different perceptions of the problem (Wenyi, 2008). All persons involved in the teaching and learning process must collaborate with one another for the full perspective of classroom tasks. Teachers, students, administrators, and parents play important roles in student and school success.

Collaborating with Stakeholders

Lead classroom teachers at the pre-kindergarten level must collaborate with other teachers, students, parents, and administrators to achieve learning success and student progress. Teachers must consult their students in the class on levels and areas of interest. If pre-kindergarten students are interested in sports and athletics, teachers can plan a theme around a particular sport or activity. A sports theme would allow parents to be involved in the planning and presentation portion of the lesson plans by providing their expertise and experiences in games with their children. Administrators would be involved in the planning process as well by inviting and involving community coaches to visit the school, thus adding another stakeholder as a collaborator. “Who should decide if a ministry focus is discontinued” (Adrianna V., personal communication, May 13, 2013)? Deciding to discontinue areas of study must be group decisions and collaborative efforts and not quickly decided. These choices must receive multiple times of study by multiple stakeholders to weigh the positive and negative reasons for the programs.

Stakeholders

The stakeholders of an early childhood learning environment consist of students, teachers, administrators, and parents as well as the church staff if it is a faith-based early learning center. The primary responsibility falls on the classroom teacher to plan and prepare lessons for students in the class; however, she must plan lessons based upon student interests to ensure motivation for participation. She must plan her lessons to meet the learning standards set by the district that coordinates with students and parents regarding developmental levels. School administrators must collaborate with district personnel on the age-appropriate standards for early childhood students.

Effectiveness of Collaboration Efforts

District personnel must maintain close communication with school administrators and classroom teachers who work with students on a daily basis to determine learning standards. Classroom teachers are the first educational professionals to observe regular student needs, accomplishments, and achievements. They know how young students develop and at what ages they are able to accomplish developmental goals. When district leaders and curriculum developers are too far removed from the reality of student needs and classroom environments, they have unhealthy views of child development; therefore, do not assign the proper standards to the correct age level.

Improving Collaboration Efforts

To improve collaboration efforts between district leaders and school personnel, the district must form a team for school success to study student needs and child development. They must include classroom teachers, school administrators, and parents with children from the area schools, community and business leaders, and even student leaders themselves. The collaborative team can study student needs, interests, and levels of development on a continuous basis to maintain an understanding over a period of time. Society and culture changes quickly and student interests change with time. Learning standards and child development must be evaluated and assessed often to determine teaching areas in schools and classrooms.

Collaboration to Promote Student Success

Students can be successful in school and in life skills when all stakeholders collaborate with one another to create learning environments that promote student success. When stakeholders work together as a team with student interests in mind, they easily remember teaching purposes and philosophies. When stakeholders begin competing with one another, they lose the focus of education and student learning. They must remember the reasons for teaching and work together to promote student learning and development to lead to lifelong learning and success.

Lanich, Laurene A.. University of Northern Iowa, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2009. 3392895.

Ho, Wenyi. The Pennsylvania State University, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, 2008. 3325922.

May 05

Tree cookies on the playground

Playgrounds are a lot of fun with nature items. Preschool students enjoy jumping on these tree cookies. They are parts of an old tree cut up into smaller pieces. We anchored them into the ground so they are sturdy.

This is great for gross motor activities and hopping or stepping from one tree cookie to the next. The students were very creative as well by adding large waffle blocks to make the line longer.IMG_1728

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Apr 16

Preschool students offer Help for Humpty Dumpty

Preschool students read and studied the nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty, recently. After reading this story, they thought of ways to help him. The teacher created a bulletin board with pictures and quotes from the students of their responses on how to help.

One student said, put tape around him. Another student said, put a bean bag around him.

This activity brought out the creative minds and thoughts of the preschool students. All good ideas to protect Humpty Dumpty from his fall.

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Apr 16

Skype reading in preschool

Technology is an important interest in the lives of young students. These pre-k students enjoyed a visit from 6th graders in Wisconsin via Skype. The 6th graders read two books to the pre-k students: Caps for Sale and Make Way for Ducklings.  We chose those particular books because both classes had copies of the books and the pre-k students could see the pictures and follow along easily on their side of the computer.

The students loved this experience. It was something different and a highlight of their afternoon at school.

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Apr 14

Foolish builders

This is a great activity for young students to do to illustrate the Parable of the foolish man building his house on the sand. Matthew 7:24-27 The Message. 

Start with a tray of play sand. Have the students build up the sand as firm as possible. Then used blocks or Lincoln logs to construct a house. IMG_1675

Punch 2-3 holes in the bottom of a plastic cup. Fill the cup with water. Hold the cup above the house built on the sand. The water will drip out of the holes in the bottom of the cup to represent rain.

The students will observe the sand getting wet and collapsing, causing the house to collapse and lean. This activity proves that we must build on a solid foundation to withstand rain and storms. IMG_1677

Jesus is the solid rock foundation upon which to build our lives.

 

Apr 12

Necessary skills in today’s workforce

Individuals must possess many skills for job success. Job skills are similar for different professions and careers. Multiple job skills are imperative for job success. If employees only have one or two skills and are lacking in other ways, they are missing out on important elements of their work life and career. The possession of many job skills makes for well-rounded employees.

Teamwork is a major factor in job success. Employees must be able and willing to work on a team. They not only must be called to the team, they must be commissioned to the team. When employees are called to work on the team, they are team members. When they are commissioned to work on the team, they are actually playing and working in the game. Commissioned employees give more energy, enthusiasm, and effort to the team as a whole.

A second important job skill is flexibility. Employees must be flexible in their jobs and work duties. Flexibility is essentially important in the educational field. Teachers write lesson plans each week with their goals and ideas to meet learning standards. However, students give the true lesson plan evaluations. If the students are not understanding and comprehending the material, then the teachers must revise their plans and teaching methods. Plans and activities and the methods to carry out those plans may work for one class or student but may not work for another. Teachers must be flexible and devise an alternative plan to meet the desired goal and standards.

Flexibility plays a big part in lesson plans but also plays a big role in teachers as well. Teachers write their lesson plans for their own classes but many times some teachers are out of work, causing other teachers to share their workload and have double class sizes for the day. These situations are unfortunate but often must be done due to staffing availability or budget resources. With larger class sizes and different students, teachers often must revise their lesson plans to accommodate these differences. They must be flexible with what they have planned and how they have planned to implement activities and assignments.

Sharing classes leads to another important job skill: sharing resources. As teachers, it is important to share resources. Teachers in the same grade level and on the same grade team must learn to and be willing to share resources. They can share books, activities, ideas, lessons, and even special guest speakers. Sharing resources is directly related to teamwork and being commissioned to work on the team. Many teachers become territorial throughout their years of teaching experience. They have their own things and ways of using things and often become competitive with fellow teachers. It is important to collaborate and share resources with teammates in order to do the job and tasks together to reach a desired outcome.

Another skill closely related to sharing resources and teamwork is having open communication. Employees must be able to speak openly to and with their teammates and communicate their needs and ideas. When employees hold back their feelings and frustrations from another during a project, the work is slow to be completed and is often not completed satisfactorily. Employees must be able to openly communicate with one other in order to accomplish goals and complete work projects on time for the benefit of the company.

The multiple skills highlighted are essential characteristics for job success. With these skills, employees can be strong individuals and will work to benefit and grow companies and institutions. These skills ultimately create a teamwork approach that lead to accomplishing tasks necessary to operate businesses as a whole.

 

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