Why don’t we share best practices?

Article written by Education News Articles

Bill Selak is an elementary music teacher and an adjunct faculty member at Azusa Pacific University and University of La Verne.

For the first time in the history of teaching higher ed, another instructor is teaching the same material as I am. At our last faculty meeting, I shared most of my resources via Google Drive. To my surprise, someone actually looked at them, loved some ideas, and said, “Hey, Bill. Do you mind if I use a couple of these assignments?” When I replied with an edustoked “Yes!”, he was shocked. He felt guilty for taking. Why is that? We tell our students to share, to work together, and to be nice to each other. As teachers, we tend to not share. Collaboration seems to be the exception.


Here was my teaching schedule during my first few years:
7:30 am Walk to my classroom. Close door. Prep.
8:20 am Greet students. Close door. Teach.
10:15 am Walk to the lounge. Drink coffee. Listen to teachers talk/complain.
10:30 am Greet students. Close door. Teach.
12:00 pm Walk to the lounge. Eat food. Listen to teachers talk/complain.
12:40 pm Greet students. Close door. Teach.
2:15 pm Walk students outside. Wait for them to leave.
2:30 pm Walk to my classroom. Close door. Prep.

I’m guessing this sounds familiar. I don’t know why, but the expectation is that teachers work in isolation. There is no collaboration built in to the school day. There is no sharing. And staff meetings are rarely a place where true collaboration takes place. Typically, a principal talks and you silently listen.

Well, some of us do: on Twitter, Google+, and at conferences. Even at local conferences, I tend to see just two or three teachers from my K-12 district, and rarely (if ever) see anyone from higher ed. Those that do share, tend to share a lot! Since you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those people. We are the few that share ideas through social media, and that collaborate at ed tech events.

I think the physical layout of schools is not conducive to teacher collaboration. In K-12, our desks are in our rooms. In higher ed, I rarely even see another instructor. When you step back and look at this, it is completely ridiculous. There are so many eduawesome teachers that simply don’t share. I think they are willing to, but they just don’t. And that needs to change.

We need to share our best practices. We need to share our ideas. We need to share our lessons. The solution to this, however, is not an easy one. To get things started, we need to become social media evangelists. The basic tenet of social media is to be social. Places like Twitter make is easy to share our ideas, lessons, and resources. Our schools need to make collaboration a priority. Administrators need to give us time in the work day to collaborate. We need to spend time connecting with other, and sharing with each other.