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PROFESSIONALISM

As teachers, we dedicate much of our time into creating and fostering an environment

where students are connected to their learning journey. Details in the day-to-day management of

the classroom are over-lain with long-wavelength learning objectives, interventions, parent

communications, and administrative tasks. Teachers diligently work in their classrooms, with

few opportunities to interact on a professional level with their peers (Flinders, 1988). This

combination can create an environment where teachers feel isolated, with little opportunity or

structure to interact with other professionals (Ostovar-Nameghil & Sheikhahmadil, 2016). For

me, this feeling of isolation is particularly pronounced when I have a student who is struggling,

and who has not had a positive response to my classroom intervention strategies. In these times,

I have found support through my professional teaching community, especially those teachers at

my school who are ready and willing to provide feedback and brainstorm new ideas and

strategies. Our school has a well-established Student Support Team (SST), which formalizes

these types of professional collaboration.

I have been fortunate to work in an environment where teachers actively consult others

(both teachers and parents) to brainstorm strategies and interventions for students who are in

need of additional academic, behavioral, or social support. Interventions are established in the

classroom and documented over time, and their effectiveness may be the determining factor in

whether a student is brought to the SST. The collaboration of an SST is beneficial for teachers,

as it encourages reflection and questioning on professional practices, allowing teachers to

explore new strategies and methodologies for their practice (Forte & Flores, 2014).

In a study of teachers who access the support of the SST revealed that the process

encouraged documentation of strategies that have already been attempted with students of
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concern (Logan et.al., 2001). Through the SST, the teacher can present student information and

discuss the various interventions done to date. The group discusses additional interventions and

looks for opportunities within the school community for student support. It is in this space

where our team collaborates on creative, student centered solutions. What we found, however,

that finding prior years SST related data was challenging, as the organization of paper copies

from previous years was not readily available to team members.

In an attempt to capture these interventions, to preserve information from year to year,

and to increase teacher engagement with the SST process, I worked with the team to create a

digital SST form and scheduling procedure. Building upon the concept highlighted in Levine and

Marcus (2010), there is value in intentionally structuring collaboration and focusing on specific

objectives. To this end, the process for bringing students to the SST has been streamlined.. The

form is submitted to the SST team by the homeroom teacher, is uploaded for view by SST

members, and a meeting is scheduled. Team members can access the document to guide the

conversation, review information, and capture meeting notes. Actions and interventions are

documented and saved for review at subsequent meetings. Going forward, prior years SST forms

will be available on-line, and can be referenced as students grow and develop.

The form is now available on-line through our school google drive, and has become a

useful tool for teachers, administrators, and the SST team. While the transition to a digital

format has been challenging for some first-time users, we have been successful in training all of

our staff in accessing, utilizing, and sharing the tool. In addition, the data is accessible to our

SST team at any time, it is easily updated as new information comes available, and information

can be retrieved in the event that it is required for further evaluation. By having this tool coupled

with scheduled and predictable meetings, we have enhanced our school SST process.
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REFERENCES
Flinders, D. (1988). Teacher isolation and the new reform. Journal of Curriculum and

Supervision, 4(1), 17-29.

Forte, A.M., & Flores, M.A. (2014). Teacher collaboration and professional development in the

workplace: a study of Portuguese teachers. European Journal of Teacher Education.

37(1), 91-105.

Levine, T.H., Marcus, A.S., (2010). How the structure and focus of teachers’ collaborative

activities facilitate and constrain teacher learning. Teaching and Teacher Education.

26(3) 389-398.

Logan, K., Hansen, C., Nieminen, P., Wright, E.H., (2001). Student Support Teams: Helping

Students Succeed in General Education Classrooms or Working to Place Students in

Special Education? Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental

Disabilities. 36(3):280-292

Ostovar-Nameghi1, S.A. & Sheikhahmadi1, M. (2016) From Teacher Isolation to Teacher

Collaboration: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Findings. English Language

Teaching.. 9 (5), 197-205.