If there is one thing that infuriates and befuddles me, it’s the numerous colleagues that I’ve met in different sectors of education, who refuse to share planning, resources and ideas. They keep them under lock and key in filing cabinets; they hoard them on their personal memory sticks; they remain silent when colleagues say they’re not sure how to teach Chromatography to year 6, knowing full well that they have a brilliant lesson under their belt. Even when these resource-misers do put things onto the shared drive, when they move year groups, subjects or jobs, everything miraculously disappears.
It begs the question: what is the purpose of our planning, prep, ideas and resources? Surely the answer is that it’s to teach, support and help children to learn.
As far as I can see, sharing your hard work has the following benefits:
- Other staff will be really grateful and probably likely to return the favour when you’re in need, saving you time and effort.
- More children will be taught a lesson that you created. More children will learn and benefit from your hard work… so without doing anything more yourself, your ‘learning royalties’ just keep totting up. That’s a great feeling.
- Teaching can be very insular, with staff only really being aware or caring about what’s happening in their class, year group or subject. Sharing at least allows you to ‘give’ to the school as a whole, without doing any extra work.
- Every teacher has their own style and every class is different, so others may well adapt your lesson to suit them, and who knows… you might decide to use their alterations the next time you teach this. No matter how proud I am of a lesson, I always have to make some kind of change to suit the class/time of day/my mood/their mood.
- In term time, the majority of teachers work constantly. Keeping up with the ever-changing demands of the classroom can be incredibly stressful. If we can make things a little bit easier for others – if we can give them the odd lesson that saves them an hour’s planning on an evening – then surely that’s a good thing.
- It’s so easy to share – just save it on the shared drive.
- It’s a really nice thing to do. Doing nice things makes you feel good.
- Your colleagues will appreciate you even more and hopefully respect your professional and supportive attitude.
Just to play devil’s advocate, let’s look at the other side. Being a resource-miser has the following benefits:
- No other soul will ever benefit from your blood, sweat and tears. Everyone else will have to work and suffer just like you did – no easy rides for anyone.
So please spread your resources around school like jam on toast. The more you spread, the sweeter it will taste. And the more mouths you’ll feed.
Categories: Life Stuff, Positive Psychology, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Teaching and Learning
The second school I worked at after I completed my training had such a great culture of sharing. I was blown away by how colleagues would just give away materials that are often treated by teachers as closely guarded secrets. I got so many great ideas from those kind and open people, and hopefully I was able to help others, too.
Another thing I think is great is peer observation. Not for appraisal purposes, but “hey I know you’re really good at teaching X or managing Y, mind if I sit in on a class when it suits you?”. Again, working in a school where that was encouraged (and successful because of the trust between colleagues – some opted out but most participated) has helped me here in Hong Kong as the sole western teacher in a local school. I often get colleagues or even random groups of visiting teachers observe my classes and I’m not in the least intimidated by it.
Yep. It makes a huge difference when sharing good practise is encouraged, both in terms of resources/planning and definitely in terms of observations too. In my current school there’s a great climate of observing/dropping in on lessons to see things that others excel at. I guess it depends though. Sadly, in some schools now, people are observed so often and so overworked and stressed that I guess even the word observation might feel like a threat. I imagine working in Hong Kong is very interesting?!