At the moment, for example, in Maths, we teach each stand in response our yearly plans, in blocks, at the times allocated for this, from start to finish, then test them at the end of the strand to ascertain their grade. As a teacher, this ticks off boxes for me, that I have done my job and have been successful. But have I? No. This is not authentic for the children, connections have not been made for them. Incidental connections are being made throughout the year but I foresee the future in my class being that of a project based nature accommodating all curricular areas in an authentic way. In doing this it will enable our students to develop pathways and connections. Running alongside this will be the development of me as a learner too. As Daniel Pink says, prepare kids for their future, not our past.
In a given year I have interdisciplinary connections with various different professionals such as educational psychologists, behaviour specialists, RTLBs, OTs, tutors, speech language therapists….the list goes on. These outside education experts give me recommendations oh how this child can work alongside others in the class, feeling included in the current workings of the class.
Currently, with regards to one student, I am connecting with educational psychologists, behaviour specialists, dyslexic experts, social media discussions and therapists. Alongside with the SENCo, Gifted and Talented Coordinator, Teacher Aide and Parents.
I have a responsibility, as the student’s teacher, to ensure that I facilitate this student’s learning in my class, so that they reach their maximum potential. To do this, I will use the conceptual model for interdisciplinary collaboration (see fig. 1) from “A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration” (ACRLog. 2015) to ensure a successful outcome for that student. The report from the educational psychologist will be analysed by a group of both internal and external interdisciplinary professionals, decisions around the recommendations will be made. Connections with the parents will be paramount to its success. Further from that, in liaison with internal experts within the school and the parents, goals will be set, planning will be done and in turn, goals will be set with the student around their learning. The classroom conditions will be adapted to suit this student.
Fig 1: The conceptual model for interdisciplinary collaboration
In using the interdisciplinary approach with my class will enable me to have more meaningful relations with students; teach cognitive skills associated with ‘real life’ (e.g., cooperation, problem solving, ability to see connections); motivate the students; increase student achievement; promote positive attitudes toward subject matter; create more curricular flexibility; diminish scheduling problems; and integrate new and rapidly changing information with increased time efficiency. (Mathison & Freeman, 1997)
There is one concern with this interdisciplinary approach, and it is that on reporting against the national standards, will the successes of the students reflect in their grades? Will the results from sitting tests like Asttle and PATs reflect their learning using the interdisciplinary approach? Time will tell…
Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf
ACRLog. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration./