Teacher Collaboration

I recently presented to school administrators at the Millsaps College Principal’s Academy(MS) and The College of William and Mary’s School Leadership Institute (VA). At both sessions, we examined the following belief statement.

Increased teacher collaboration produces increased student achievement.

As principals, how does that belief fit into your approach to school leadership?

As a teacher, how does it fit into your work with your faculty?

My personal experiences as a teacher and school consultant suggest that when teachers collaborate a opportunity can form for teachers to have a three year commitment to students…

· getting to know students before they are assigned to your classroom for instruction (collaboration with the previous year’s teacher in planning for the start of your year)
· collaborating with any teacher who is instructing a student whom you are instructing
· following up with students and their teachers the year after you have instructed them. You can help teachers prepare instruction for the students you know. It is also the ideal way to identify what your students really learned in the year they spent with you.

I asked the administrators in MS and VA to explore the following questions: (What would your response be?)

· Describe the current level of “teaming” among your teachers.
· What would enhanced teaming look like ? What would it accomplish?
· What role do you play in building collaboration and teamwork?

Here are some ideas for your role:

As a principal:
What activities could be added to faculty meetings to build team thinking and collaboration into teachers’ experiences?
Consider having teachers in small groups individually request ideas for a current challenge they are facing. Start the next meeting in the same groups with teachers reporting in on what they did and the results.

As a mentor:
How are you introducing the new teachers to teaming and collaboration?
When the beginning teachers identify areas they wish to improve or explore, match them with other teachers. Consider collecting from experienced staff the list of expertise areas they’d be willing to share.

As a teacher:
How can you invite collaboration?
As the school year begins, request input from teachers who are now working with your students from last year. Ask for their early observations of where students are on track or missing needed skills. If the teacher has given an assessment of skills, compare it to your assessments from the end of last year. Any surprises? If you identify some “lost” learning, ask other teachers about ways to instruct the concept differently this year.

Post your ideas for increasing teacher collaboration to increase student achievement.

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