Effective teacher collaboration requires time and focus
- Teacher collaboration is a learned skill and requires focus on five major areas, the most important of which is building trust, an aspect that can be accomplished by creating a safe environment for sharing and by demonstrating mutual respect for everyone’s opinions, ideas, and perspectives, Edutopia reports.
- Collaboration also should focus on student learning, manageable expectations for change, the creation of a supportive environment that allows for a give-and-take of ideas, and a respect for the privacy of peers.
- Teacher collaboration helps to combat teacher isolation, whether it is through professional development settings, “Dare to Share” sessions where teachers share ways to improve student achievement, or through the formation of “learning partnerships” with other teachers.
While much research has been done on the benefits and power of teacher collaboration, many schools still find this difficult to implement successfully. Collaboration doesn't just happen: it requires strategic planning and time. In a 2015 thesis titled “Teachers’ Perceptions of the Influence of Teacher Collaboration on Teacher Morale” author Alison M. Goldstein found that there is “an understanding that collaboration has positively affected the morale of these teachers in terms of more planning time, and a more collegial atmosphere; however, barriers such as time was still perceived as preventing the collaborative process.”
Some schools are trying to solve this problem through the use of shared or common planning periods, which allow teachers to experience the benefits of collaboration with specific learning partners in order to share ideas and, in some cases, share the responsibilities of creating lesson plans or preparing for supplemental projects or experiments. Some schools have half-day classes on Fridays, allowing more time for teacher collaboration and professional development, while others are moving to a four-day school week, which also allows for more collaboration. Collaboration also happens virtually. A growing number of social media and websites make it possible for teachers to collaborate across the hall, the state or the country.
- Edutopia Teachers Learn Better Together