Collaborative Time takes place during our Connections Block on Wednesdays from 2:20-3:00PM. We called this block "Connections" because it was an opportunity for students to connect with their own and other teachers to get targeted tutorial assistance in a specific subject area such as Math or English. On a given Wednesday, a teacher from a department (ie. Math) would be hosting the Connections Tutorial while the rest of their colleagues collaborate. Each of our departments has their own Connections Block Room, and each department creates a schedule of coverage for that room that rotates each of the department members through the Connections block. The following is an example from our Math department (Math is so busy that we actually have two Connections rooms).
|Over a five week span, each teacher hosts Connections Tutorial once, and collaborates the other four weeks.|
So what about the students? We have more than 1400 students at our school, and nearly 1000 are bus students. The time from 2:20-3:00 is 'self-directed', in that students may choose to go to one of the tutorial areas (English, Socials, Math, Science, Languages, Fine Arts/Tech Ed), to the library, computer labs or gyms. However, at any point, a teacher can assign a student to tutorial should they feel that a student is not meeting the outcomes of that course. By giving some students self-directed time, it has allowed us to artificially create smaller groups of students for our staff to work with to truly give tutorial support. It also provides a reward system for those students who are caught up--as Douglas Reeves says, "the price for freedom is proficiency"!
The Connections Block serves a dual-purpose: it allows our teachers to work together on curriculum, instructional practice, and assessment while giving our students opportunities to work with subject-specific "tutors" (our staff) in smaller group or individual learning situations. Each year, we have polled our teachers, and we have found the following anecdotal results about the impact of collaborative time on improving instructional practice and improving student achievement:
In my next post, I would like to share our Academic Intervention Program that is built into this timetable: this is another way that we have found to improve student success rates without a financial hit to the school.
Again, if you have any suggestions for us, or for how you have done something similar, I believe there are many educators (including myself) that would be interested!