I will not be very specific in this post. The stuff I am talking about has implications within my professional code of conduct and since I don't fully understand what the rules are, (I don't go to enough of my mandated meetings nor do I try to comprehend what is said when I do go) I figure the more vague the better. CYA
This year was a bit of a loss.
At the start of the year, after several months of dreaming and planning, my grade was going to implement something I was really excited about doing. We called it Collaborative Teaching, but it was my hope that it could be a PBL encompassing all subjects (except math, we always exclude math, fooey!) where we got to be very innovative about all our education possibilities.
We even set up the schedule to allow for the maximum flexibility in achieving this goal. I mean, seriously, it was a thing of beauty. All the subjects in different 'homerooms' (which optimally only existed on paper) ran at the same time, so if we needed a smaller group of students we could do that, or if we needed everyone together, well we could do that too. Plus, we had groups divided up by gender during the week, again if we needed to do a project that was more male-oriented (running around, hammering stuff into other stuff, etc) then there was the time built in for it. The only thing we as a grade team did not have control of was options, and hey, we needed a break every now and again anyways.
There was even TEAM BUILDING/PLANNING TIME set aside every week (something no other grade team had).
An embarrassment of riches. Seriously, every little thing we could want, including oversized classrooms.
So, naturally, you know what happened.
Explosions of learning. Children eagerly running to school to take advantage of the bounty their teachers were offering. Parents arriving enraptured to tell us of how their previously reluctant learner was excited about school again.
Well, actually, what we did was create a team who was generally unsure about this experiment and had to have the whole concept explained (hey, its a new thing, of course there is some discussion required) but even then, it was only half-hearted acceptance of the value in trying this out. Then upon looking at the schedule, there was a meltdown. "Where's my classroom in all of this?" Because, without a group of kids who were assigned to a space, there was a loss of professional identity, of the ability to establish personal plans and stake out intellectual territory.
Ok. I can bend. Let's adapt a little.
But then, the death knell came, but I didn't know it.
We tried a completely new and unprecedented activity that took us away from the school for four days to begin the year. There were a number of good reasons to do it and it was a valuable activity in and of itself. The problem came with the four days of planning for it, which took up all of our extra time at the start of the year. And when we got back from the activity we were a week into the school year and hadn't even moved our books to our new rooms, let alone done any decorating.
So yeah, putting uncertain teachers in the hole by implementing a totally new system, without a second of PD, planning or completed room.
Needless to say the timeline went like this.
Week one. Split up the combined time for specific classes.
Month two. Take apart the schedule and reconstitute into a more 'school-like' configuration. No gender classes. No opportunities to combine teaching.
Term Two. Situation back to normal. And get to listen to 'war stories' of how our grade had to survive the first term and how it made the year so hard.
But hey, we got to keep our team planning time. Which we could use to talk about whatever we wanted. Just not how to work together.
It was hard to watch this dream die. I didn't complain (much) because I still work in a very privileged situation. I get to do whatever I want in my classroom, innovate however I choose (I Choose Flip!) and still get admin support, even when something bombs (or smokes, or stinks - I teach science after all). I am given advantages teacher the world over dream of having.
But I remember what could have been. I remember the possibilities. And I remember with my failure (not just mine, but still) the idea of the classroom that I wanted so much to succeed is now an exemplar of what not to do.