Many times we talk about making connections with our students or parents, but we rarely focus on the need for educators to connect with one another. By creating a culture in which educators are encouraged to work together, a stronger sense of collegiality will ensue, with other surprises sure to follow! A place to call their own.
While we recognize the space constraints that most Islamic schools are under, we feel it is important for there to be a communal gathering spot designated for teachers and administrators to relax, have a cup of coffee, and exchange tips on teaching and discipline.
Build it into your monthly meetings. Islamic educators often have monthly or quarterly meetings, led by school administrators. These meetings often consist of tightly packed agendas in which administrators are speaking to the teachers, rather than with them. This can be due to an administrative style or because of time constraints. Regardless, scheduling time for teachers to speak to one another informally and formally is important. A coffee and snack table is sure to attract many to it, at which conversations can begin.
Formal methods of promoting in-school networking, though, can happen when teachers are asked at the start of a meeting to write down five struggles they are currently facing. Following that, partner or group teachers and ask them to discuss solutions to these problems, using large Post-It notes to display their responses. By having a specific method of “reporting out”, discussions will focus on the “solutions” versus focusing only on the problems.
Create interest groups and committees. Early on in the academic year, ask teachers to share some interest groups and committees that they are willing to steer with their colleagues. Have regular meetings established to help these committees succeed in their established goals. Teachers with similar interests will convene at these meetings and have the opportunity to do some collegial work in the process!