Developing Collaborative Relationships
When working with teachers in your building(s), it is important to reach out to develop collaborative relationships. Get to know the staff and school culture, establish your role, set schedules that allows regular times to meet with teachers, make sure your administrator supports the collaborative process, be flexible and proactive, and advocate for the needs of students. Make yourself available to teachers, offer differentiated lessons, volunteer for school committees, show an attitude of “our kids” instead of “my kids”.
Understanding school culture
In order to be effective in the building(s) you are assigned, you need to get to know your school and the culture of the building. Observe traditions, routines and norms of the building since each school is unique. Find a core group of staff who you can trust to ask questions and help you better understand the culture. Review the school handbook to gain a better understanding of rules, expectations and overall norms of the building.
Establish your Role
Introduce yourself to staff and help them understand your role in the building. Find ways to be visible and available to teachers and staff. Offer help and assistance to establish trust among your colleagues. Explain ways you can help meet the needs of high ability and gifted students inside and outside the classroom settings. Show that you are willing to be a part of the team.
Setting a Schedule
When setting a schedule, find out the plan times of the teachers you will be working with so you can meet and collaborate during these times. Ask to be invited to collaboration sessions. Try to set your schedule with students so you are available to attend collaboration sessions on a regular basis.
Getting Administrator Support
Discuss with your administrator their goals for services for high ability/gifted students. Be sure they understand the needs of these students and show how you can help the teachers and staff meet these needs. It is important to keep your administrator informed by sharing newsletters and positive feedback as well as any challenges you might be facing. Ask your administrator for feedback on what you are doing well and what you can be doing better.
Be Flexible and Proactive
Expect changes in schedules, meetings and events. Be understanding when these changes occur. When possible, offer another time to reschedule. Check schedules and address conflicts as needed. If a teacher asks to make a change, be accommodating if possible. Don’t wait for teachers to come to you, drop by their classroom instead. Reach out to teachers who have not attempted to work with you. Be modest and don’t come across as pushy or a “know it all”, that is a turn off. Be dependable and show teachers they can count on you.
Building collaborative relationships with:
Students: Build trust and get to know your students. Ask your students what they need and how you can help them. Help them understand who you are and what you can do for them. Get to know them and their interests.
Families: Start off with a positive contact and help families understand your role. Advocate for them and help them navigate the school and district system. Listen to their concerns and needs. Build trust and make sure they can count on your support.
Educators: Establish relationship that allows you to work together to meet the needs of students, not “your kids” and “my kids” mentality. Make sure teachers can count on your by following through with tasks and attending scheduled meetings. Go above and beyond to help teachers and ask for help when needed.
Advocate for inclusion in building/grade level meetings and professional development opportunities.
*Attend meetings and sessions as much as possible and advocate for the needs of gifted students in the classroom setting.
*Ask for opportunities to provide professional development to staff regarding the special needs of high ability gifted students and strategies to meet these needs in the classroom setting.
*Provide articles or web links to staff that illustrate ways to meet high ability/gifted students needs or topics that may be of interest to the students in their classroom.
*Offer to team teach a lesson with a classroom teacher who has high ability/gifted students in their classroom.