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Field Notes 8- 4/2/13. When collaboration doesn't work

mschoyer's picture


  • Last night, I received a call from Nina telling me that instead of going to Elementary School 2, I should come to Elementary School 1. She told me that she is now going to be at Elementary School 1 full time.
    • She was aware this decision could be made at some point.
    • This was very short notice.
      • Found out Monday morning, officially switched on Tuesday.
      • I think she should have been given more time, as adjustments can be hard for students (and teachers). The students will now have a new teacher with two months left in the school year.
  • Nina told me she was happy in some regard- her caseload was getting far too big, especially with four new immigrant students in the past two weeks alone.
  • Today, instead of teaching, I helped Nina with all the “busy work” that accompanies getting new students and a new schedule.
    • I only saw one student- a new first grade boy from Japan. Nina administered his entrance exam/evaluation while I observed.
    • The rest of the time I ran around with and without Nina talking to teachers, taking things to the office, making copies for files, etc.
    • The principal had told Nina that he wanted her to give the 1st through 3rdgrade teachers the option of push in or pull out for their ELL students. Previously, the program had been all pull out, but now with more time, there was more flexibility.
      • He asked Nina to talk to all the 1st-3rdgrade teachers with ELL students whether they would want one push in and one pull out per day, or rather, two pull outs.           
        • These would be shorter 20-30 minute periods, while the 4th and 5th graders would have one 50-minute pull out period.           
        • Nina and I went to all the classrooms and asked the teachers.
          • This was difficult. Although Nina had been given the day as an in-service, the other teachers still had students. There was really no convenient time to talk to them.
          • Nina ensured each teacher that the principal had asked her to do this, and most importantly, she wanted him or her to answer honestly (push in or pull out?). She wanted to find out what would be easiest for each teacher and make him or her happiest.
          • I was completely surprised and taken aback by some of the resistance and blatant rudeness that Nina faced getting answers. It was only by 2 out of 12 teachers but they were rude and acted like Nina was doing something wrong.
            • The principal put Nina in an awkward position. These teachers’ rude behavior was, in my opinion, unwarranted, but they were likely stressed with a full class of students and having to make an on the spot decision.
            • Nina was upset and told me many times that she understood why the teachers were probably acting the way they were. We also talked about school culture- the principal is strict, rigid, etc., so chances for collaboration and creativity are confusing.
            • Out of the 12 teachers, a few had no strong preference but most (9-10) preferred pull out. The entire program will most likely stay pull out, with occasional push in for the teachers who requested it.
            • This was another example of how the teachers could have been confused by collaboration. Nina was offering to help in their classroom, and many would rather do it alone. I understand it is sometimes hard to have another teacher in the class, but I don’t think the teachers are used to collaboration because the school culture does not allow for it.