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Design by
Lisa Dempsey

 

TNLI: Action Research: Professional Development: “What’s Going On in There?”

How does structured teacher collaboration influence student achievement?

Summary

Collaboration is the topic for this research project: structured time within the school day for teachers to meet with their peers and discuss the achievement of their students in terms of common assessments that are given within the instructional groups at a particular grade level. The primary focus group of this study was a kindergarten group of at-risk students who received instruction from both a regular and a resource teacher in an all-day setting. The teachers of these students as well as the other kindergarten teachers in the school were part of a collaborative group that met during the school day for ninety minutes each week to discuss their students’ academic progress. During these meetings, planning for academics was not discussed; rather, the time was used to focus on specific learning strengths and weaknesses of individual students.

Teachers also assessed their own learning strengths and weaknesses and applied that assessment to their teaching methods. Particular teachers instructed specific groups of students so that the task matched the teacher. This proved to be beneficial to the students as their test scores increased significantly throughout the year.

Teachers found the collaboration to be effective for student achievement, but they also noticed a bond that formed between the participants. A camaraderie was established, and teachers felt free to openly discuss the strengths of particular lessons as well as share any obstacles they faced during their instructional day. This willingness to share is contrary to the way most teachers operate in American schools. According to research, most teachers are content to close their doors and simply teach. By taking part in a collaborative group, teachers are flinging open their doors and inviting everyone inside not only to watch them teach, but also to help them learn. Collaborative teachers are lifelong learners who believe that when you are teaching, you, too, are learning.

The data presented in this study support the idea of teachers working together to further the achievement of all students, not just those in the “golden classes.” All students can learn, and all teachers can learn to teach those students in such a way that they are able to continue to learn for the rest of their lives.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Policy makers should study the results of the benefits of teacher collaboration as it affects test scores and teacher morale.
  • Schools should build time into the school day/year for teacher collaboration, in order to allow for better problemsolving skills and enhanced teacher effectiveness.
  • School administrators should foster an attitude of mutual benefit among teachers, eliminating isolation and creating a positive atmosphere in which to educate students.

Denise Snyder

Special Education
East Millsboro Elementary
Millsboro


TNLI Affiliate:
Delaware

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute--Delaware, please e-mail Michael Rasmussen.

 

 

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