In Jason Perez’s article, “Taking the Doors Off the Classroom Through Collaboration,” he discusses the idea of isolation which is definitely not foreign to me. I have always been one to “hide” in a sense and shut out others who would no doubt be helpful in my self-improvement. This is just how it is being the introverted and kind of hard-headed person I am. However, I know that to be successful as an educator I HAVE to let them in. I want to be the best I can be, so letting down my barriers is a must-do when I become a teacher.
One thing I want to point out is how Perez explains that teachers often come together to vent, and chit-chat about things that are not actually helpful in improving one’s practice. This will never be an issue for me (at least that is what I think) because I tend to not engage in small-talk – I’m not much of a complainer… At least I don’t think I am. So, when Perez says that educators need “Collaboration with a purpose”, I fully understand where he is coming from.
I really like how Perez lays out collaboration as a four-step process: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. That forming portion, of which Perez claims is the easiest stage, I think is actually one of the hardest. When it comes to first developing relationships with others, I struggle. This because I am adamant about sharing things about myself. Getting past the initial meet-and-greets and the getting-to-know each other phases has always been hard for me. But once the relationship is established, I flourish. This is how it has always been and I imagine it will always be this way. It kind of worries me.
The step of Storming comes next, and this one is less of an issue. I never have minded receiving feedback from others. I always am open to new ideas, but am careful to take them on. I’m hard-headed in that regard. However, I am not defensive. I love to receive feedback. Thus, once I develop that relationship with a team of educators, I don’t imagine I will have any issues with the collaboration aspect. This is what Perez means by “Norming” – the improvement of the relationship with your team, and the willingness to let them in at any time in order to improve.
Performing is the last stage, and Perez leaves it a little unclear as to what he means is supposed to take place in this stage. Perhaps I missed it? From my understanding, I believe he is saying that it is simply the final stage when everyone is entirely comfortable with the collaboration process between members of a team. I really do look forward to having a quality team of which we can all share ideas, concerns, criticisms, etc. in an open and very accepting environment. I hope that this is how it is in my first years of teaching… Lord knows I would have a very difficult time if this were to fail. Let’s not let that happen.