can we talk?

CC-licensed photo by echiner1.

I was talking to someone at work about what feels to some like onerous deadline after onerous deadline, thing after thing due, and the general level of necessary work due on top of the usual (even though some of that “extra” work is her fault). We got to talking about how, organizationally, we do the things we do. 

One of the things we agreed upon was that we have a lot of unidirectional meetings, where information is disseminated rather than discussed. That happens everywhere, but we know that that sort of thing is best left to Google Docs and other emailed attachments. We also spend some amount of time sparing people from constant meetings and that one-way transmission of data, instead giving them opportunities to work on one of those many things that need doing, bounce an idea off of a colleague, or work collaboratively on curriculum development. And it rarely happens… but why?

Ewan Mcintosh (@ewanmcintosh) recently blogged that “The quality of the teacher is the number one factor in the improvement of an education system, collaboration is the key factor in improving the quality of that teacher.” It seems to me that maybe we don’t do enough, internally, to work collegially on become better at what we do. Outside of departmental meetings or administrative meetings, we don’t have enough time to plan collaboratively, to ask for honest feedback, and work together on things. We’re all busy doing what we do, but I think we’re losing sight of how we could be making everyone better together.

Most of my work with colleagues is around how to make (better) use of technology in their teaching and organizationally, which can help the collaborative process, but there are deeper things to get at with a topic this big and important. So what do you do? How have you and your colleagues worked together to make each other better? Is it replicable somewhere else?