This semester I have been mentoring three clinical interns, or student teachers, as they still may be commonly known. Yes for those that are wondering, I have three interns, all day, every day, from September until December. This unique collaborative approach to student teaching, although time consuming, comes with wonderful benefits for the interns and the elementary students in my classroom. My students have had four teachers throughout the school day. That means small grouping and more direct instruction.
In the best interest of student learning, this co-teach model is a valuable piece. A colleague of mine that had three interns last year gave the suggestion of having each plan and instruct solo, allowing the rest of us to simply facilitate. Once each intern had planned and instructed in a subject, they began collaboratively planning and instructing. I felt that this process gave them a better understanding of co-teaching and they could see the benefits in this model.
With all these positive characteristics, there have been multiple discussions regarding working together effectively. In a collaborative model multiple personalities come into play. It is easy to take things personally and to behave defensively when conflicts arise. These are issues that I struggle to overcome.
Investigating the concept of PLCs, I came across an article, which describes a structure that should be in place in learning communities. Of the structure, the authors mention standards that team members must remember. These include speaking from the heart and assume good in each other, but also recognizing that the process can get messy (Adams, A. & Vescio, V., 2015). I've used some of these standards when coaching the interns. I would love to see this collaborative model to expand to other schools but will not work without the understanding that these learning communities will have issues. Ultimately the desire for student growth is what we are most after.
Adams, A. & Vescio, V., 2015. Tailored to Fit: Structure Professional Learning Communities to Meet Individual Needs.Journal of Staff Development. 36(2)