WE Collaborate: Elementary Music Teacher Collaboration
Elementary music teachers exemplify the pillar of WE Collaborate. They meet monthly, for 90 minutes, in five established learning teams throughout the District, to share ideas, set goals and evaluate student growth. They also convene as a whole group four times a year for hands-on professional development.
During the learning team meetings, teachers from grades K-5 share lessons, units, and strategies that the group can discuss and make suggestions on how to differentiate for additional grade levels and proficiencies. "It's so valuable when you have teachers from schools with different demographics presenting a problem to the group, you get different ideas, viewpoints, and perspectives to solve similar problems," says Trevor Bateman, Music teacher at Elmonica Elementary School.
"One of my teammates has a master's degree in special education, so I can bounce ideas off of her, and talk about how we can adapt them so that I am still teaching to the concept, but at the correct level for my students," says Elizabeth Lynch, music teacher at Scholls Heights and Nancy Ryles elementary schools. "This has been wildly valuable for me."
There are protocols for the learning teams, developed by the group with the help of District Music Coordinator Blake Allen. "We talk about what we are going to teach our students, how we are going to teach it, how will we determine if they have learned it, and what will we do if they haven't (interventions)," says Lynch.
Lynch's team sets a common student growth goal each year. Each teacher is able to work toward that goal, in their own way, and through collaboration, compare student successes and challenges. "We, as elementary music teachers, are working toward the ultimate goal of making sure all kids have the same standard of education, no matter which school they attend. That is a foundational priority of our learning team, to move toward that goal together," says Lynch.
During the four, full group professional development opportunities, BSD teachers and industry experts present interactive, hands-on lessons on topics of interest generated by the group. The teachers participate in the lesson; they sing the songs, and play the games. This allows teachers to experience the lesson as if they were students. "Each teacher leaves with a packet of the lesson with step-by-step directions on how to do it, but the physically doing it really resonates with them the most," says Allen. "This collaboration creates a sense of community, to meet with people who do exactly what you do and have that connection, it's amazing."