By Ashley Weinard, NCMA Educator and Project Director, The Big Picture
“When you synthesize it all together, it becomes this amazing thing that no one of us would have done just alone.”—Art of Collaboration Team Member
With the NCMA’s first Team Planning Retreat workshop just a few weeks away, some educators have asked what we consider a “team” and whether this workshop is for them. As you will see, there is flexibility and a wide range of ways we interpret this term.
A team can be two or more people in two or more different disciplines. Do you have to teach the same grade? Not necessarily. You might have an idea for a schoolwide project, or you might want to see what students of different ages can learn from each other through a shared lesson. Do you have to be a pre-existing team? No. Now is as good a time as any to start a team. Do you have to share a common vision? It helps, but we can help you work toward that if you are having trouble.
The Art of Collaboration project offers one model for collaborative team planning. In AOC we work with teams of middle school teachers who are pooling skill sets to design creative lessons that address student learning goals in a variety of subjects. An AOC team consists of up to six members: teachers of art, math, science, language arts, social studies, and a specialist (media, technology, or exceptional children). They work together to plan lessons, but within each team teachers can group up in many ways, depending on logistics such as curriculum correlations and pacing guides. For example, the science, art, and social studies teachers could team up to implement a lesson about volcanoes. On a different team, the art and math teacher might pair up to introduce a lesson on slope and abstract painting. At other times the whole group might be working on a teamwide lesson.
So, the answer is … a “team” is what works for you and your school. Just make sure art is at the heart of your collaboration.