There are certain archetypes of teachers out there. Not every teacher will fall under a label, and I am not going to catalog them all. But here are the three most common ones that my charges are asking about:
- Coach First, Teacher Second: There is no doubt that athletic coaches have an incredible amount of commitment to their student athletes. A considerable amount of time is spent outside the school day---and in addition to the regular sports season---to guide and develop skills. A few coaches, however, make this their primary reason for being employed by the school and things that are classroom related take such a backseat that they make no allowances for collaborating with peers. Is there a solution? Yes and no. First of all, I remind the teachers I support that it is not their responsibility to set expectations: that task belongs to the administrator. Suggest the occasional half-day of release time to collaborate with others during the sports season and then move to other mutually agreed upon meeting times. I make it clear to my noobs that they do have a responsibility to put together some powerful professional development. If they can show the coach that the collaborative time is meaningful, they won't have to beg anymore.
- Superstar Teacher: Superstar teacher is an administrator's dream. This teacher has a great system in the classroom. He's loved by kids and parents, gets results---and does it all by himself. There is no arrogance associated with his performance, just professional satisfaction. So, how do you get these kinds of teachers to share their knowledge with others? My first recommendation is bribery. These are teachers who are self-directed in their professional learning. They will want a subscription to a website, the latest ASCD book, or sub coverage to attend a workshop. Whatever you offer must be coupled with some honest flattery. Tell them you've noticed certain lessons they've designed or student projects they've guided. Would they mind sharing a couple of ideas with the new teacher in the department? Providing some advice?
- Dead Wood: Dead Wood likes her classroom door closed. She's been teaching for 20 years, and poorly at that, and isn't much interested in whatever staff development you're offering. Job security is hers as her efforts aren't quite poor enough that any administrator will jump through the necessary hoops to get her out of the classroom. Perhaps you can at least bring her to the table with other teachers to talk about student learning? You might. Start small. Ask her for help, even if you don't need it. Pretend you're looking for a lesson a particular topic or ask for a copy of a lab you know she has. Just get your foot in the door and honor the positive things that she does have to offer. Don't push collaboration for a bit and focus on building her self-image of someone who is a resource. Later, after you have the trust and relationship built, invite her to join your group.