In Praise of Collegiality

This blog post is a short one, and one of gratitude for the work I do, and where I do it. In Albemarle County Public Schools, we have multiple opportunities for teachers across the district, at all grade levels to gather together for PD sessions on one full day. The kids get to stay home. The day is called “Making Connections,” and our district brings education specialists in from all over the country, providing a varied list of options. For example, there was one session that was a historic bus tour of Charlottesville. Another session dealt with microagressions, and yet another was focused on differentiation.

I am well aware that this is not a normal situation for districts, and Albemarle does have some funds to put toward this. But it is also an indicator of the value placed on having teachers gather together and work outside of their own buildings together. I can honestly say that within the first year I taught in this district, I got to meet more people outside of my building than I ever did in my previous school. Collegiality was just not a priority there, and getting the teachers together with each other only really happened if you were a department head for curriculum alignment and/or textbook adoptions.

But with Making Connections, as well as other opportunities offered throughout the year, we have a chance to grow together, and develop if not friendships, at least working acquaintanceships. This goes a long way toward developing a districtwide collective efficacy. Granted, I’m not saying that this is the ultimate result, but it does allow for the district to bring in specialists who can speak to, and clarify approaches and initiatives that the district as a whole is prioritizing. The messaging of our priorities become known, and the resources for our work are made available. It would be great to see more districts doing this—even if it meant showcasing their own teachers as presenters. Not every district can bring in speakers, but every district could set up a conference-like environment with their own resident professionals.