This is my first year being part of the Connected Classrooms project. We got off to a rocky start because of technical issues. When the sound from the lead teacher is low or muffled, it is next to impossible to keep a class interested on the screen. When that problem was fixed we were off and running. The first challenge I faced was trying to keep what I was doing with the class and the connected part cohesive. At first we were not connected frequently and each carrying on with our own classes. I found it hard to keep a momentum with my teaching when we were connected once or twice a week. After a collaboration meeting and discovering that the other teachers felt the same way, we started connecting more frequently. We take turns teaching units and grammar bites and set time aside of literature circles. Over the months we’ve had to adjust the time set aside for each of these. I think a big challenge has been trying to coordinate 4 classes. We want to connect regularly, but with different assemblies, presentations, home room and other interruptions it can be hard to keep energy and interest up. I feel that now we are humming along nicely. We each have units and time frames to work within that, although are always flexible, provide a better structure that the intermittent connections we had earlier in the year.
One fantastic benefit of being part of this team is the feedback. As much as teachers collaborate and work with each other, this profession is can be lonely in the sense that you are generally by yourself leading a class with only students to provide feedback. We all reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in a lesson, but actually having three other professionals watch and participate in a lesson and then encourage, praise, comment and critique it after has been wonderful in helping me grow as a teacher.