- A new series of studies that analyzed the movement patterns of teachers during the work day through digital mapping suggests that administrators can boost collaboration between teachers by intentionally assigning classrooms to support that effort, Education Week reports
- The studies, which focused on collaborative efforts in the teaching of math, noted the “functional work zones” of teachers, and determined that those who were located near to one another and who followed similar schedules were more likely to collaborate naturally on the teaching of math.
- While this study did not link teacher collaboration with student achievement in math, other studies have suggested that students benefit when teachers collaborate about instructional methods.
This idea that classroom proximity affects teacher collaboration seems obvious at face value because teachers are typically tied to their classroom throughout the day. However, classroom assignments are not always made with this factor in mind. Grouping the same grades together can benefit teachers at the elementary level, but on the secondary level, the need for collaboration is more likely to follow subject areas. The same idea can be applied to mentorship, particularly for new teachers where such support is more necessary. Teachers need to be placed near their mentors, or at least, more experienced teachers, if they are to have collaborative opportunities throughout the day.
Such collaboration can benefit teachers because they see themselves as working together toward a common goal. “The key to strong collaboration is recognizing that a student shouldn’t be the responsibility of only one teacher, but of all teachers,” Jason Perez wrote in his article “Taking the Doors Off the Classroom Through Collaboration.” Teachers also benefit because teaching is often a lonely profession and strong collaboration can prevent teacher burnout. According to Math for America, an organization that focuses on providing collaborative opportunities for teachers, “between 40% and 50% of all teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years on the job; that includes the 9.5% who exit the classroom before the end of their first year.”
Strong teacher collaboration can also affect student outcomes. According to research by Stanford University, “When a teacher needs information or advice about how to do her job more effectively, she goes to other teachers. She turns far less frequently to the experts and is even less likely to talk to her principal. Further, when the relationships among teachers in a school are characterized by high trust and frequent interaction — that is, when social capital is strong — student achievement scores improve.”