Less than a third of teachers say they feel like they have enough time to collaborate with their peers, according to the newly released results of a RAND Corp. survey.
- Teachers are least likely to have opportunities to observe their peers, with 44% responding that they never visit other teachers’ classrooms to gather ideas for their own instruction.
- The researchers recommend that states and districts increase opportunities for collaboration, especially in high-poverty schools. “This will require buy-in from principals, who should see their support for teacher collaboration as a part of their role as instructional leaders,” they write.
For years, American educators have pointed to Asian schools as examples of how to create more time for professional development and teacher collaboration. In Asian schools, teachers tend to have larger class sizes, but teach fewer hours during the day. The model has allowed for strategies such as lesson study, in which teachers plan, implement and continue to refine lessons until students successfully learn the material.
With shifts toward personalized learning and flexible scheduling, some U.S. schools expanded time for teachers to learn from and provide feedback to each other. Open classrooms and team teaching also create natural opportunities for teachers to observe and benefit from the strengths of their peers.
One question for administrators, however, is how willing teachers and parents would be to see class sizes increase by more than just a few students if that’s what it took to significantly make time for collaboration. Recent research also shows that placing teachers in classrooms close to each other can increase collaboration — a strategy that appears far simpler than reworking schedules and knocking down walls.