Activity 7, Week 31, NZ Mind Lab, PRACTICE
When I think interdisciplinary connections in my current position as a Resource Teacher of Literacy, I come a upon a slight conundrum. The job of an RT:Lit can be a lonely one, as often you are on the outside, relying on classroom teachers’ availability or willingness to collaborate. As much as I may want to draw upon interdisciplinary connections, it is not always an option for me.
I am still new to the job however, so it may take some time to build a reputation among my cluster and to figure out, alongside my management committee and various school leaders and teachers, as to the best way of working together. The qualities/attitudes part of ACRLog’s concpetual model (2015) is still under construction!
My Professional Practice Manual (PPM) is rather vague on the subject of interdisciplinary practice;
The hows, whys, and wherefores are left pretty much down to the individual RT:Lit. Which is good and bad. There are many differing expectations of us and our service from teachers, school leaders, and MOE.
Below I have a mind-map to show current and potential interdisciplinary connections in my position. The ones I think are the most important for me currently are the teachers, and parents and/or whānau. I want to focus on connecting with them more in the near future. As an RT:Lit, I believe it is usual to work with parents and/or whānau only through the teacher. The wording above from the PPM suggests this as well. This can be good, as it is all of those people as a team working towards accelerating a student’s progress, but as I said before, can rely heavily on others for it to occur.
It may seem like a no-brainer to talk about collaborating with the teachers, but it is very easy to work with a referred student and have little interaction with their classroom teacher. Teachers are busy and it can be hard to pin down times to meet. I would like to make time more often to collaboratively work together to plan for student needs. Parents and/or whānau would also be an integral part of this planning at some stages.
Ideally, meeting with teachers fortnightly would benefit students. I may need to plan for some before or after school meetings, break times or google hangouts. Even trying to build up better email communication between myself and teachers would help. Regular communication is key, as ACRLog suggest in their conceptual model (2015). I don’t think parents would need to be at all these meetings, but an initial one would be good, with some updates as the intervention progresses.
Thinking about interdisciplinary practice specifically with my students, Barton & Smith’s comment that sometimes “control of the classroom often seems the goal, rather than meaningful learning and interaction”(2000) leapt out at me. I find this can be particularly true for those students that are referred to specialist services. I have observed it in many classrooms over my years as a teacher.
Many students who are struggling with literacy have often missed out on the authentic learning that comes from an interdisciplinary approach. The unfairness of this is huge. Allowing them some real life experiences to work with, and the meaningful choices about what or how they want to learn, which they often don’t get given (Barton & Smith, 2000), could help them to see that literacy is something that is within their reach. Choice is important to these kids too.
ACRLog. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration.
Barton, K. C., & Smith, L. A. (2000). Themes or motifs? Aiming for coherence through interdisciplinary outlines. The Reading Teacher, 54(1), 54-63.1.
Ministry of Education. (2016). Resource Teacher of Literacy, Professional Practice Manual. Retrieved from http://literacyonline.tki.org.nz/Literacy-Online/Planning-for-my-students-needs/Resources-research-and-professional-support/Resource-teachers-Literacy