By Theresa Schneider, first year AmeriCorps member on the Parker-Varney Elementary School team

PITW #5 (Bing!) "'Multiply' the Power of Everything!"

As we are reminded by one of our organization’s Putting Idealism to Work tips, collaboration is the strongest tool we have in multiplying our service and impact.  Through the teamwork of an AmeriCorps member and their partner teacher, City Year is able to provide students with focused and intentional support. My partnership with my classroom teacher has really served as the foundation for my service year experience.

I serve in a class of both fourth and fifth graders with my partner teacher, Mr. Doughty.  Parker-Varney Elementary School chose to experiment with banded classes this year to best meet the needs of students, which has led to even more collaboration between teachers and corps members.  I work with my own homeroom students, as well as students from two other fourth and fifth grade classrooms and their teachers.  Constant coordination and collaboration among City Year members and teachers is necessary to ensure the success of all of our students. 

Every morning before school, my teacher and I have time to check in and see what is planned for the day.  This allows for us to center ourselves and it's nice to have a little quiet together to get ready for the day to begin.  Each day comes with many surprises that we could never anticipate, but Mr. Doughty and I have a strong understanding between each other.  Mr. Doughty and I work so well together because we are both easy going and when problems arise, we are able to adapt quickly together.  When we are on the same page about what is going on in the classroom, we can give our students more of what they need.  Mr. Doughty has been teaching for almost 30 years and continually has new stories or ideas to share.  Throughout the year, we have continued to check in regarding the progress of our students, academically and behaviorally.  Having a strong, open relationship has allowed for both of us to share what we are doing and what we observe in the classroom to continue to give each of our students what they need. 

In addition to the strong collaboration between my teacher and myself, I continue to collaborate beyond my own classroom.  Because half of my class switches with half of another class for two subjects, collaboration across the fourth and fifth grade band has been vital.  This requires communication with other teachers about when we are able to work with our students or what a certain classroom is learning at a certain time. 

This is the first year that the classrooms have been banded together and it has had its share of obstacles but everyone has continued to work together to help all of our students be successful. From these experiences, I have learned that collaboration is essential in professional relationships to really be able to execute excellently and get the best results, which in this case, has resulted in my ability to deliver the best service possible for my students. 


Click here to read our first blog in the My Partner Teacher and Me series - Establishing Trust.

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