Ben's Approach to Collaboration & Communication
Communicating and collaborating with both colleagues and students' families is crucial in a blended environment. This is especially true if a teacher is doing something that looks very different from other teachers at his school. Check out how Ben communicates and collaborates with both his colleagues at school and his students' families and how his methods of communication and collaboration have evolved over time.
I have weekly check-in's with students about how they are progressing through the lessons. This ensure face-to-face time with each student and allows me to hold them accountable to the goals they are setting. I ask a standard set of questions "What lesson are you on today?", "What lesson do you plan on being on in a week" ,"Is there anything you need to help you reach your goal?" I record all their answers and keep a running log so I can refer back to these notes each time I conference with a student.
The Class Forum is a 2-5 minute portion of the Class Meeting (please see the "Meet and Greet/Class Meeting" strategy video) at the beginning of each week in which my students propose solutions to learning barriers that they have experienced or may see arising in class. This strategy ensures that my students' voices will be heard and empowers them to be change agents in shaping the class environment. While it is important to offer other avenues for individualized contact between myself and my students, having a space for a public discussion emphasizes the collaborative atmosphere that I want my students to work in every day. As a blended learning teacher, my practice is evolving from day to day and week to week. The Class Forum creates a safe and regular channel for my students to give me feedback about their needs and experiences. My commitment and responsiveness to my students' suggestions motivates them to be more invested in their learning and to our classroom community, which is critical to their success in my self-paced blended learning model.
At the end of any collaborative activity, each student makes a copy of this Teamwork Evaluation Rubric and fills out the boxes with his/her thoughts on the overall quality of their group's teamwork. The rubric includes multiple indicators of high-quality teamwork and encoruages discussion about how to improve future iterations. Indicators include noise level (framed as concern for other group's ability to work effectively), quality of work produced, overall teamwork, and level of grit. Students assess their own contributions to their collaborative assignment as well as their teammates' contributions. Students can insert glows and grows where they explicitly discuss their feelings regarding their own work and the work of their peers. I frame this activity as a team-building exercise. Evaluating collaborative assignments can be complicated. The Teamwork Evaluation Rubric allows me to collect a good deal of data about individual student's contributions from multiple perspectives, which is both a fair and thorough way to assess individuals and the team as a whole.