Having been in the classroom for over 30 years it often can be enlightening to look back and think about the elements of the classroom that were so pervasive and how that has changed. Years ago the practice of collaboration in the classroom was usually met with skepticism from the parents who felt that when their child worked on a team or in a group on a collaborative project that their work would be diluted or other children in the group would be able to “get by easily” because of the work of another child. It was not uncommon for teachers to feel that if they collaborated with other teachers they would not get credit for their good ideas or another teacher would take credit for it.
Collaboration, thankfully, is a concept that has become more of an important element to the school and classroom. In today’s educational landscape collaboration and the role it plays has become a focus for school transformation. Teachers in the Perpich Center Arts Integration Network engage in powerful professional learning experiences in which collaborating with colleagues is embedded in the program goals. Arts Integration as well as other interdisciplinary curriculum frameworks provide the on-ramp for collaboration. They require that teachers effectively collaborate to plan, implement, assess and reflect on student learning.
The National Center for Literacy Education (NCLE) published their research data in a report titled Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works. Although focused on literacy learning, NCLE data indicated educators in every subject area and role were eager to work together to deepen literacy learning. An important theme that emerged from this data is that teachers strongly value the time to co-plan with colleagues to create new lessons or instructional strategies and to analyze how their students are developing. Teachers want the time to collaborate on what they can do together to advance student progress.
On the flip side of this, in the survey data from the NCLE respondents reported about support for working collaboratively that:
- Only 32% have a chance to frequently co-create or reflect with colleagues about how a lesson has worked
- Only 21% are given time to frequently examine student work with colleagues.
- Only 14% frequently receive feedback from colleagues.
- Only 10% frequently have the opportunity to observe the teaching practice of a colleague.
Thirty years was a long time ago and times have changed, or have they?
“What Teachers Need and Reformers Ignore: Time to Collaborate” Washington Post, April 11, 2013.http://goo.gl/fJY7c
Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works. (2013) Research National Center for Literacy Education/National Council of Teachers of English. National Council of Teachers of English http://goo.gl/dOR9o