Return to site

Common Planning

On creating a culture of sharing and collaboration

The poet John Donne once said that 'No man is an island'. At Dexter we have our own version, no educator is an island. And yet most schools leave educators feeling isolated and disconnected. The 4th grade math teacher isn't collaborating with the 4th grade reading teacher. The 12th grade physics teacher isn't collaborating with the 9th grade theatre teacher. This is a travesty and part of the reason educators find themselves exhausted by the Herculean task of cultivating brilliant young minds. Education is a team sport, not an individual one.

A primary reason for this lack of collaboration is epistemological. We're all products of the education system we unconsciously propagate, a system that defined individual subjects to such a degree that most humans don't realize their innate connections. Our brains don't have neatly defined buckets for domain specific information, instead we store information as a tapestry of connections - a web of ideas. Learners integrate all new experiences within the context of their existing knowledge structure.

At Dexter we have a unit that attempts to explore this powerful idea that 'all knowledge is connected'. Learners chose any starting point on Wikipedia and then click the first link on the page. They then map out the thread of knowledge. As the unit progresses, murmurs began to spread amongst the learners. The group starts to realize that no matter where they started they end up at the same knowledge base. They then work with each other to form connections between their individual knowledge maps and a massive tapestry of connections emerges in front of their very own eyes.

Once this powerful idea is fully internalized by educators, it's game over. Boundaries and barriers dissolve and new possibilities emerge. Education becomes a team sport. Common planning becomes culture. As communication and planning among teachers increases there's a spill over effect. Individual learners begin to factor into the planning discussions. A clear arc or trajectory emerges and smooth hand offs take place. It's as if an invisible conductor finally brought harmony to an unorganized cacophony of sounds. A beautiful melody emerges out of what is now an orchestra. Music happens.

As the new year approaches, ask yourself how you might create a culture of common planning at your school. A culture of feedback, improvement, collaboration and macro planning that forms a foundation of excellence. United we stand, divided we fall.

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!

OKSubscriptions powered by Strikingly