Building Partnerships: How to Make Partners Out of Other Teachers Who May be Competing for Students Too

By Deb Buehler

 

A slice of homemade pie in hand, Artesia High School teachers gather once a year to learn more about agriculture classes and the Artesia High School FFA Chapter. The event – called “Pie Supper,” has become a well-attended standing tradition.

“Students earn extra credit by contributing homemade pies,” said Monte Avery an agriculture teacher in the southeastern New Mexico school. “From 3:30 to 5:30 all of the teachers, faculty and staff are invited to come to our building for pie. They tour our modern facility; see the halls lined with plaques and awards and meet students by participating in small judging competitions. The teacher who does the best wins a roll of sausage from our own program.”

Avery believes that agriculture teachers really have to make an active choice to build relationships with teachers outside their discipline. Because agriculture students are often needed for time outside other classes, a quality relationship with colleagues is essential.

Intentionally Build Relationships
“Do something for other educators,” Avery suggests. “Host a faculty breakfast during FFA Week – it’s the perfect opportunity to let teachers know what’s going on. There isn’t a subject that other teachers are teaching that doesn’t tie in.”

Jim Pomeroy, Director of the Agricultural Science and Technology Center at E.O. Smith School in Storrs, Conn., keeps a steady smile on his face as he works with teachers from other disciplines.

Comprehensive high schools in Connecticut are structured so that educators work together aligned with the goals and aspirations of students.

“We work collaboratively here,” Pomeroy said. “We value what each other do and raise the bar for academic rigor and relevance. We make sure as teachers that we value relationships.”

Being an administrator for his department has taught Pomeroy to be a good listener, be concrete and sequential in decision making and to respect what others do. He and his department put a lot of emphasis on career development events that incorporate other disciplines.

“We can only be as much a professional in our area as we can,” Pomeroy suggests. “Elicit help outside the walls of your classroom, be visible in the hall way, be seen in the office and come in on weekends or snow days when others are in.”

Pomeroy notes that it can be challenging to find a balance between being really visible and making more work for yourself. For example, it can be a great experience for students with supervised agricultural experience projects to be hired for landscaping. It shouldn’t be thrust upon them though, as an expectation; the agriculture department shouldn’t become solely responsible for school landscaping.

Seeking Other Educators
Both Pomeroy and Avery have sought educators from other disciplines. When Pomeroy was working on farm business management content, he collaborated with the math department. English teachers have been involved in presentations, projects and reading student manuscripts.

“Whatever we are doing, we make sure that we present ourselves as a resource to other departments,” Pomeroy said.

“Get to know other teachers in your district,” Avery adds. “I’ve coached parliamentary teams for the business department because our students overlap.”