A horizontal teaching team is the teachers who also teach your students. For example, I teach IBDP Literature. My horizontal teaching team is the teachers who teach DP Mathematics, DP Visual Arts, DP History, DP Spanish B, etc. These are the teachers who are also teaching my same students.
When IB teachers create a PLC (Professional Learning Community) or teacher team with their horizontal team, they are better able to build positive relationships with their students, find solutions to improve student learning and instructional practice, and relieve student stress and anxiety. As this article reminds us, "Coming together to share information, resources, ideas, and expertise, learning becomes more accessible and effective for students. Collaborating means purposefully building interpersonal relationships and working towards healthy interdependence, which occurs when teachers are comfortable giving and receiving help without forfeiting accountability." (schoology.com)
Take for example an IBDP horizontal team. One of the most important planning tasks for this team at the beginning of the school year is to create an IA calendar. If your students are supposed to be preparing for your IA, but they are also preparing for an IA in two of their other classes -- they most likely are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and are unable to concentrate on doing their best. In order for student success, teachers need to create professional communities where they can discuss what they are teaching (and when they are assessing) their students.
Besides creating your IA calendar, a horizontal professional learning community can help you remove barriers to success for your students. If a student is struggling in your classroom, perhaps one of your horizontal team teachers can help you find a classroom practice that will help your student. In this way, your student can find success while you improve your own teaching practices and, perhaps, learn a new way to teach your curriculum.
Want a few more tips on working with teacher collaborative teams?
1. Be prepared at your meetings. Have the dates of when you are planning assessments (especially conducting IAs or when IAs are to be handed in) or when you are planning EA practices.
2. Be flexible and willing to change your schedule. This is a collaborative practice that allows student outcomes and success to come first.
3. Be curious and ready to learn. How can you support your horizontal team? How can you ensure your students are doing well in all their subjects, not just your class? If you disagree, respond with curiosity and kindness with the objective to find a solution. Collaboration among teachers benefits student learning.
Do you have time to meet with your horizontal teams at your school? Are these meetings productive? How can you help them be more productive?