All About Teacher Support Groups
Teachers are key when it comes to creating a collaborative and inclusive environment within an educational center. Thus, it’s important for teachers to work as a team and lend their help when necessary. For this, different collaborative strategies can be used, such as teacher support groups.
In this article, we’ll try to define and explain what this innovative educational strategy consists of.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
– William Arthur Ward –
What are teacher support groups?
Teacher support groups usually consist of three or more teachers, and are support systems that teachers of the same school create. Teachers use them to work collaboratively and search for solutions to problems that arise in the development of the teaching profession.
Some of the problematic situations that teachers may have to deal with during their school day are usually related to:
- Attention to diversity.
- Student behavior problems.
- Disciplining and exerting their authority.
- Curricular adaptation.
- Conflicts in the relationship with other teachers.
- Communication problems with families.
Therefore, with this cooperative and collaborative strategy, teachers can better respond to the needs of all children and teachers.
“Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.”
– Virginia Burden –
How to put this collaborative approach into practice
Support groups allow teachers to deal with a specific problematic situation or demand help from other teachers.
Together as a group, the teachers consider hypotheses, explanations, and alternative solutions that they implement and review themselves. This leads to practical and shared knowledge. Therefore, we can say that teacher support groups are based on teamwork and collaboration.
According to Carmen Gallego Vega, support groups include:
- Creating a climate of trust that encourages participation.
- Solving problems based on professional experience.
- Promoting the existence of support equality and reciprocity.
- Promoting shared knowledge.
- Promoting the existence of good communication, showing a willingness to listen, patience, tolerance, respect, etc.
To correctly implement this collaborative approach, Parrilla and Daniels recommend that support groups should request, if deemed appropriate and necessary, the temporary participation of:
- Other teachers at the school.
- Professionals outside the school.
- Members of the students’ families.
Furthermore, these authors propose that teacher support groups should hold a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with the teacher who asks for help. In these meetings, they must take into account that a single problem must be dealt with to either conclude the case or agree on a follow-up date to review the evolution of the situation.
On the other hand, it’s worth highlighting the importance of establishing good organization and planning. In other words, teacher support groups should keep track of sessions and take confidential notes on each issue. It’s also necessary for the teachers and the school administration to support this work.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
– Antione de Saint-Exupéry –