Collaboration seems to be a buzz word these days.  It is mentioned in just about every aspect of education: planning with teachers, working with parents, teaming up at the district level…and the list goes on.  However, it is easier said than done because multiple personalities and ideas often create hurdles and challenges.

So how is collaboration executed effectively?  I recently experienced true collaboration working with the Denver New Millennium Initiative (NMI).  We newly released the policy paper, “Making Teacher Evaluation Work for Students: Voices from the Classroom,” demonstrating an authentic partnership among teachers from a variety of backgrounds, teaching many different content areas and ages in diverse districts.  I am proud that I co-authored this paper, along with my teaching colleagues, with a common goal in mind: to lift up the genuine teacher voice that offers solutions for the implementation of the new Colorado legislation: EQuITEE Act.  I think the Denver NMI policy paper, “Making Teacher Evaluation Work for Students: Voices from the Classroom” is the most effective and meaningful collaboration in my career.  In the report, we stressed theimportance of using  multiple measures to evaluate a teacher’s effectiveness.  We also stressed using peer evaluation and formative feedback to lift up best practices in the classroom.

The journey to arrive at our team’s finished product is a testament to people working together towards a common goal.  This legislation will change the face of evaluations in Colorado’s education system.  Because of the importance of valid and reliable implementation, the Denver NMI felt the need to respond and offer our suggestions based on our real life experience from the “front lines.”  I was amazed at the way our group used technology to elevate our thoughts and ideas.

Through the support and facilitation of the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), we were able to connect virtually with conversations, Google documents, webinars, and the occasional face-to-face meetings.

I am confident that this product exemplifies how the teacher voice is valued and needed in these policy discussions.  With the Denver NMI, we now have a vehicle to organize the many voices from a variety of experiences to speak as a unified force.  Because we now have the tools and the support to continue our work, the Denver NMI looks forward to growing in numbers, ideas, and strength.

As we continue to work together, I know that this collaboration among teachers will create a system where teachers lead the discussion about reform in school, rather than just react to it.

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