They quickly learned that to build a sustainable partnership, they needed first to promote mutual goals and shared values of the group.
“Starting a partnership by focusing on a specific project is attractive and ‘easy,’” they later wrote, “because it engages you in something concrete and feels productive. However, this approach is limiting and misses the real purposes for collaborating.”
To discover common areas of intersection meant answering some basic but crucial questions. Who are we, what is our purpose, who do we serve, and why do we matter? And where are the intersections and shared values between the two groups?
“That approach,” they wrote, “launched a more fruitful and sustainable partnership in the end.”
By answering those questions, they landed on the goal of creating professional development opportunities for teachers to rethink literacy and science in thought-provoking ways. That meant helping educators see the Discovery Center of Idaho as a partner, rather than as a location for a field trip.
The third graders’ museum was not the only project undertaken, but it is a strong example of how a teacher used the museum’s resources in new ways to inspire students.
“For the educators,” the partners wrote, “they will always look at learning spaces differently. All of them have considered how they modify their classroom spaces to be more conducive to learning about science. They also have practice at thinking about how to integrate literacy with science and other topics in a meaningful way.”
The museum staff also changed. “Using literacy tools,” they wrote, “we were able to look at our spaces through a new lens, inspiring creative thought about how we can improve our spaces for learners of all ages.”
Educators are often isolated. Partnerships like this one in Idaho can help create connections in meaningful ways, creating a network of community science and literacy educators in both formal and informal spaces where youth can learn.