Who needs friends?

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The new Avengers: Infinity War trailer came out and is already setting records, as you can read in this Forbes article.

Here is a quick breakdown of the trailer’s impact, courtesy of Fizziology:

Putting Captain America’s beard aside, I’d say the most exciting element of the trailer is NOT the big battles or bad guys.  Sure, we get Thanos and multiple fights. But the BEST part is seeing how all these heroes work with each other.  

Just take a look at the “screen cap” attached to the official trailer’s YouTube video:

It’s Bucky!  Black (Blonde?) Widow!  Cap (and his beard)! Hulk! War Machine! Falcon! Black Panther and a whole bunch of Wakandans!

The last time movie-goers saw most of these characters, they were arguing and battling each other. But all it takes to make amends is a world-conquering villain. That’s friendship for ya.

If you’ve paid attention to recent superhero movies, the theme of FRIENDS appears quite often.

 

No, not THAT theme . . . apologies . . .

We mean REAL friends.  To remove the “ear-worm” song from above, take a closer look at the following trailers of current movies.

Start with Thor: Ragnarok . . .

Thor’s “friend from work” comment at the 1:20 mark is one of the best lines in the entire film.  

friend from work

(Fun fact – there’s a neat story about the origin of that line, which came from an unlikely source. Read more here.)

 

Or check out this Justice League trailer and listen around 1:50 for Barry Allen/Flash’s awkward “I need friends” admittance to Bruce Wayne.

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Everyone needs friends, and that includes TEACHERS.

Unfortunately, teaching can quickly become an “isolated profession,” and you can read more about this “Lone Ranger” phenomenon in an article by The Atlantic HERE.

A growing research field focuses on teacher collaboration and how to help educators work together.  Some people consider teacher collaboration as the “missing link” in successful school reform.

Here is a summary of one study about “High-quality collaboration” and its benefits to teachers and students.  There’s a useful section in the article called “What this means for practitioners,” and if you’re in a hurry, here’s one excerpt from the summary:

School and teacher factors influence the quality and type of collaboration. Teachers in elementary schools, more so than in secondary schools, collaborated more frequently about instruction. Higher-quality collaboration is more common among female teachers than male teachers, particularly about instructional strategies, curriculum, and assessment.

 

Another study of middle school teachers found positive results from “professional learning communities” (PLCs) consisting of same-subject, same-grade teacher teams.  However, overall effectiveness depended on a lot of factors: “leadership and organizational practices, the substantive details of PLC activity meetings, the nature of conversations in PLC activities, and the development of community among PLC teams.”

There’s a lot to unpack in that last statement about influential factors for successful collaborations. This is the challenge of teacher teamwork.

You can’t force friendship, and you can’t coerce teachers to collaborate. As these studies show, effective collaboration requires meaningful application and multiple nuances to result in teacher buy-in and worthwhile work.

As with most interpersonal relationships, the process is delicate and sometimes messy. Just consider how well superheroes get along (or not) throughout their long history.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping each other get along and collaborate.  Even so, here are three resources (and highlights) that could help.

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“7 Reasons Why You Need a Teacher Friend” (Tame the Classroom)

#1: You need someone to tell you “no” 

When you have a bad idea, like giving students stupid awards, a good teacher friend will tell you, “Heck, no!”  When you’re thinking about writing a parent a nice-nasty reply to a note and you let your teacher friend proof it, a good teacher friend will tell you, “Nope, edit this so you won’t get fired.”

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“Teacher Collaboration: Matching Complimentary Strengths” (Edutopia)

Virtual Collaboration: Share Work Products on a Common Drive

By sharing work products on Google Drive . . . teachers know what their colleagues outside of their collaboration group are doing. They also know how they’re doing it. This enables them to replicate and/or get ideas from each other.

Even without meeting in person, they have instant access to work products, like:

  • Unit plans
  • Lesson plans
  • Curriculum maps

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“Making the Most Out of Teacher Collaboration” (Edutopia)

Personal Steps to Effective Collaboration

If I had it to do again, this is what I would do to get the most out of my formal and informal collaborations with other teachers:

  • Build relationships
  • Observe the best
  • Ask questions
  • Share
  • Come prepared

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The above ideas are not as “scholarly” as the research studies shared earlier. But they can still provide useful steps.  At the least, none of these education offerings require a world-conquering villain.  Be thankful for that!

 

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Worlds Collide

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The next BIG superhero movie coming to theaters is The LEGO Batman Movie!

In a promotional stunt, LEGO Batman appeared alongside LEGO superheroes from DC Comics’s CW television shows, which you can check out below:

What makes this video clip special is it is the first time DC superheroes from the CW TV channel (Green Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, The Atom) have merged with a DC superhero from the movies (Batman).

“Big deal?” you think?

Actually there’s been a lot of chatter among fans, critics, and industry reporters about the pros, cons, and possibilities of merging film and TV-based superheroes.  These are characters that come from the same comic book universe, but are featured in separate media outlets–theatrical, broadcast television, or streaming.

DC, for example, has Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman dedicated to film, along with other heavy hitters from the Justice League (Green Lantern, Aquaman, Flash).  This gets problematic, however, since The Flash also stars in his own television show on the CW (as do Green Arrow and Supergirl, who has also met a TV version of Superman).

The Last Children of Krypton

Confused?  You’re not the only one, and some people argue these two “universes” should stay separate (see here and here).  Others think there could be a way to have a crossover of sorts between TV and Film (read more here).

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More intermingling makes sense for Marvel superheroes, since theoretically, many of these characters actually DO live in a single universe shared between the movies (Avengers, etc.) and television shows (Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil, Luke Cage, etc.).

Some people claim Marvel could and should have film and TV shows cross over.  Others point out that such an event would still be a monumental and unwanted task.  And that’s not even dealing with different Marvel heroes contracted out to different movie studios (e.g. X-Men/Fantastic Four with 20th Century Fox, although Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman said he’s happy to meet the Avengers sometime).

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Sorry, Wolverine.  No shirt, no crossover.

While not requiring millions of dollars, the habit of teachers collaborating can also seem like a difficult ordeal.  But it’s worth it, with research finding higher student achievement in schools with higher levels of teacher collaboration.

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We’ve talked before about teachers getting along with other teachers and here’s another resource with useful teacher collaboration ideas, including virtual tools, co-planning, scheduling, and more.

And let’s take a closer look at teachers from different universes (i.e. different grade levels).

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The Teacher Channel’s blog “Tchers’ Voice” shares commentary on learning from teachers of different grades.  The blog post is called “Pathway to Collaboration,” and it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Challenge yourself to find new ways to team up and learn with colleagues in your building, district, and beyond.

Sadly, there’s not much else out there about cross-grade teacher collaboration, although someone did do a doctoral dissertation on this topic.  (If you need a little light reading, you can find the entire 418-page document here.)

I’ll conclude with examples of insight gained and projects accomplished when my world collided with those of other teachers.

  • A fourth grade teacher who showed me all kinds of management techniques and student jobs that I could also apply in my high school classroom.
  • A middle school science teacher who collaborated with me to successfully submit a grant for highway safety physics curriculum.
  • A business teacher who modeled practical classroom procedures for high school seniors, giving flexibility and freedom to young adults weeks away from graduating.
  • And several more colleagues, mentors, current and former students co-presenting and co-publishing academic work.

No movies or television projects yet, but maybe someday.

Teacher versus Teacher

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The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time to watch the latest trailers for next year’s big superhero movies.

First up is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, opening in theaters March 25, 2016.

Soon after comes Captain America: Civil War, hitting the big screens May 6, 2016.

Notice any trends?  Take a look again at these images:

 

That’s right folks, 2016 is the year of the superhero stare-down.

Oh yeah.  It’s also the year of superhero versus superhero.  Sounds fun, yes?  (Almost as fun as a stare-down contest.  Hulk make puny human blink!)

Heroes fighting heroes is nothing new.  They’ve been doing it in comic books for decades.  That’s how Wolverine and the Hulk first met, back in The Incredible Hulk #181, published November 1974.

hulk wolverine first meet

Fighting is how Wolverine and the Hulk meet a lot of folks.

Marvel and DC Comics have occasionally joined forces to have their heroes fight it out, most memorably in 2003-2004’s JLA/Avengers mini-series.

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Some of the previous films have already included minor skirmishes, too, such as Iron Man and War Machine in Iron Man 2 (life lesson: don’t drink and don an Iron Man suit).

 

Marvel’s “big three” heroes–Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America–first share the screen after a fracas in the first Avengers movie:

 

Then we also have Iron Man vs. Hulk in the second Avengers movie (Age of Ultron), which kicks things up a notch.

 

There’s no mystery why these fights occur.  Heroes duking it out with each other is loads of fun to watch.  And most of the time, they eventually work out their differences to defeat the REAL bad guys.

Heroes versus heroes is dangerous and entertaining, and the same is true for teachers versus teachers–but not in a good way.

Given the pressures involved with teaching, disagreements are bound to arise from time to time.  We don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to assessments, curriculum, scheduling, resources, management and discipline, and more.  Heck, there may even be some colleagues in your building or department that rub you the wrong way.

As teachers we must not allow friction to fester.  Ongoing bickering is noticeable and results in classroom snickering. Dampen combustible situations with grace and good-natured humor.  “Lie low” when you need to.

Resist the urge to blow off steam in front of your students. Avoid any gossip or rumor-mongering by students and staff alike.  Speak highly of your colleagues in front of others, pointing out strengths and past successes.

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Here are some other resources for fostering positive relationships with your co-workers:

The website We Are Teachers has an eye-catching blogpost entitled “How to Get Along with ANY Teaching Colleague (From the Whiners to the Kiss Ups!)”  Of course, it’s important to consider what kind of colleague you become on your not-so-good days.  Personally, I’ve been known to be the “negative Nancy” (Ned) during grouchy times.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (of the United Kingdom) has a helpful guide for new and beginning teachers.  Some useful advice includes “staffroom etiquette” and what to do if you have concerns about colleagues.

The National Education Association (NEA) provides ideas for building collaboration in your classroom via co-teaching.  Instead of negative energy, co-teaching harnesses positive teacher relationships and teamwork for successful student learning.

For a more in-depth examination, take a look at the book Teachers Working Together by Mario Martinez.  For a quick view, You can find excerpts here courtesy of Google Books.

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Hopefully these resources will provide you with inspiration and information on getting along with your fellow educators.

And if it’s just inspiration you need, remember the current holiday season and do your part to bring . . .

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