The above map depicts the many direct and potential connections associated with my practice. My immediate day to day links (in green) are Government agencies that oversee education, online communities that I participate in, media outlets that keep me informed, the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) which guides my content, friends and family who provide support and work / life balance and of course Freemans Bay School (FBS) that employs me!
FBS links directly (in light blue) to my students, teaching staff, our vision, professional development and the school community. At the edge of some of these links lie many potential leads for future integrative networks.
Other cluster schools and online communities have a considerable impact on my profession. The Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) that neighbouring schools have created has influenced changes to our environment (we knocked out the walls!) There is a corporate aspect to this as well. Research suggests the needs of 21st Century learners will be better addressed in an environment similar to current and future workplaces. We can better prepare students for the jobs, and social enterprises of the future by creating open, collaborative spaces.
The fact that 87% of our year 6s will go on to a local intermediate also has an effect on our teaching and learning program. We can construct understandings and share expertise across levels, which is of great value in preparing our students for their next step. By sharing our expertise within similar communities we are also able to create and foster similar, future learning environments. We can share experiences to expand and extend beyond our own classrooms. Shared knowledge can help to guide inquiries into new teaching approaches and support best practices and emerging models.
Educators are doing amazing things with their learners despite standards based and accountability driven movements. Using online communities we are publishing great projects via Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs and sharing resources using platforms like Pond. We have global collaborations, fascinating new ways technology is being integrated into the classroom, students making a difference in their communities, and great project-based learning. Jackie Gerstein has a great blog about using theses connections called User Generated Education.
Interdisciplinarity means integrating the information, perspectives, and tools of two or more disciplines to advance understanding or solve problems whose solutions are beyond the scope of a single discipline.
To be proficient in core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice, an expert panel came up with four competency domains:
- Values and ethics. The goal in this domain is to work with individuals from other professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values.
- Roles and responsibilities. The goal is to understand your own role and those of other professions and then use that understanding to appropriately assess and address the educational needs of your students.
- Interprofessional communications. The goal is to communicate with students, families, communities, and other education professionals in a responsive, responsible manner that supports the team approach not just for teaching but for maintaining life long learning.
- Teams and teamwork. The goal is to apply relationship-building values and the principles of team dynamics to perform effectively in different team roles to plan and deliver student centered learning that’s safe, efficient, effective, and equitable.
Benefits for the teaching profession, according to Mathison & Freeman (1997, pg) include:
Improved and more meaningful relations with students, more curricular flexibility, better overall integration of new and rapidly changing information, better collegiality and support between teachers and wider comprehension of the connections between disciplines. Perhaps the most key benefit however is relevance to the needs of the twenty-first century. New curriculum approaches are constantly being created to align with the imperative that schools move towards the future. Sharing expertise across connections allows expertise outside of our immediate connections to be more accessible and viable, across many platforms.
To integrate disciplines is to address the needs of the whole child, which Mathison and Freeman (1997) suggest is the cornerstone of the interdisciplinary approach. When educators consider their curricular objectives and students’ needs, they may choose interdisciplinary teaching and learning to deliver part or all of the content they will present. This method can help bring students to a new awareness of the meaningful connections that exist among the disciplines.
Ten suggestions for Interdisciplinary Teaching can be found here.
Clay, R. A. (2011). 2011 Education Leadership Conference: Interdisciplinary and interprofessional teaching, research, and practice. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/ed/about/educator/2011/12/leadership-conference.aspx
Mathison, S. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf