Saturday, February 11, 2012

Collaborative Student Learning Teams

I've had the joy and challenge of teaching all advanced classes this year!  At first, I was certain this would be the easiest year of teaching EVER... But quickly I discovered that even though my kids are well-behaved and very intelligent, they demand more of me than any students before.  Now, sometimes this is rough.  I won't lie.  However, I rest in the knowledge that I'm being stretched and made better every day.

I will outline many of the changes I've made this year on this blog, but I want to start with the one that's been the biggest change:

I observes a gifted teacher at my school last November.  She has been teaching gifted students for many years and is what I would call a master teacher.  I admire her and have since tried to model my classroom after hers (as much as possible--my teaching style is still different--can't change that!).  She taught me about the concept of learning teams.

When students are in learning teams, they work independently and together every day.  At the start of the term, students are put into groups by the teacher.  On their first day together, they fill out a learning team contract.  This has names, roles, expectations, rules, etc.  They fill it out together and sign the bottom.  The contract also outlines the terms of what will allow team members to be kicked out.  ...Doesn't sound very fun, but it keeps them accountable in a way that I cannot.  (To download a free copy of the charter I use, please visit my TeachersPayTeachers site by clicking here)

The system is not perfect and I don't know if it will ever be, but it has made my life easier overall.  It's also more closely aligned with real-life than sitting in rows, unable to interact with each other.

I hope to share many of my experiences from the learning teams via this blog, including the praises and the pit-falls.  I hope you stick around to witness the fun and the faltering!


  1. Would it be possible to see a sample contract?

    1. Sure! If you visit my TeachersPayTeachers website, you can download a free copy of the one I use. Here is the link: