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Teacher Collaboration: Opportunities and Barriers

Improving Instructional Practice through Professional Learning Communities: A Review of Recent Literature

Kim Given

on 10 June 2013

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Transcript of Teacher Collaboration: Opportunities and Barriers

5+7= (cc) image by anemoneprojectors on Flickr School Improvement
Teacher Collaboration Money Teacher Collaboration as Staff Development Time Teacher notions of privacy and autonomy Attitudes toward conflict Space Unclear definitions Reluctance to change Authority structures Outside influences Cultural Barriers to Collaboration Physical Barriers to Collaboration Authentic learning is a social activity Most teachers are unprepared to work collaboratively Collaboration is complex (cc) photo by medhead on Flickr Teacher identity &
cuture of isolation Communities of Practice Learning is socially constructed 2006 2010 2008 Teacher Inquiry in Collaborative Networks Lortie, 1975, 2002 Teaching is Political Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009 Wenger, 1998, 2002 Self-Efficacy Theory Bandura, 1989 Vygotsky, 1967, 2004 Teaching is complex. Cuban, 2007; Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Shulman, 1986 Collaboration can help multiply the strengths and ameliorate the limitations of individual teachers Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009;
Cuban, 2007 & Guskey 2009 Problems and Solutions Anderson, 2010
Qualitative case study
One participant, teacher in urban, high needs school
Social network, ethnographic, network survey, participant observation, interviewing, and document/artifact collection
2-year study Sample sizes ranged from a single case study of one teacher to surveys of up to 509 teachers. Barnett, 2004
273 South Dakota high school teachers
No on-site activity Boyle et al., 2005
509 primary and secondary teachers across England
Year 2 of longitudinal study Broadley, 2010
Mixed methods
104 teachers in remote schools in Australia
surveys, interviews
2-month data collection cycle Fisler & Firestone, 2006
Mixed methods
University/school partnership;
45 teachers in one school in 5 study groups
Interviews, observations, documents, surveys
3-year study Gates & Robinson, 2009
2 high school sites
Observations, interviews
Year-long study 2011 2009 2007 2005 Gates & Watkins, 2010
2 elementary school sites
Observations, interviews
Year-long study Given et al., 2010
3 school-based sites
Reggio Emilia style documentation
Year-long study Grierson & Gallagher, 2009
Qualitative case study
10 participants
participant interviews, field notes
Year-long study Hadar & Brody, 2010
Qualitative case study
8 participants
semi-structured interviews; group interview; written reflections; observing teachers’ goal setting documents; written reflections
9 month-long study Levine, 2011
Qualitative case study
2 cases; 3 experiences high school teachers in each
Field notes, observations, interviews
Data collection over 2 years Lujan & Day, 2010
Mixed methods
One elementary school site, 36 participants
open- ended survey; quantitative data, one-on-one interviews, observation of PLC meetings
15 weeks Meirink Imantsb, Meijerc, & Verloopa, 2010
Mixed methods; Comparative case study
5 interdisciplinary teams in 5 different schools
observations, questionnaires, attitude scale, teacher logs, field notes
Year-long study Musanti & Pence, 2010
7 participants
Field notes, interview transcripts, documents
3-year longitudinal study Nelson & Slavit, 2008
150 teachers in middle and high schools across 6 diverse districts
teacher surveys, interviews, artifacts, observations, student work
3-year study Parker , Patton, Madden, & Sinclair, 2010
Qualitative case study
4 participants and 3 participant observers
interviews, field notes; artifacts
2-year study Parr, 2011
Mixed methods
291 teachers from 28 schools
questionnaire, open ended questions
Year-long study Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, & Gallagher, 2007
454 teachers
No on-site study; surveys mailed Pomson, 2005
40 teachers
narrative inquiry
4-year study Trotman, 2009
Qualitative ethnographic research of head teacher learning communities
conducted at two sites
Observations, field notes, interviews, transcripts, researcher diaries
5-year study Varga-Atkins et al., 2009
Mixed Methods
253 teachers
multiple surveys administered interviews with select representative volunteers
2-year study Zellermayer & Margolin, 2005
Qualitative case study
group of 15 college-based student teacher supervisors
meeting transcripts, informal interviews, participant reflective notes
Year-long study out of a 3 year initiative Study Characteristics What PLCs
Can Offer From Isolation
to Collaboration Theory Themes from the Research 2004 Hadar & Brody, 2010 Teacher
Inquiry Data-based Decision Making Collaboration Focus on student learning Authentic
of Practice sustained ongoing SMART
Goals Physical
Barriers Time Space Money PD
Budgets Grant $
Federal Funds Tech
Learning Organize
Meetings On-going
PD Meet in Classrooms Proximity Schedule Nelson & Slavit, 2008 Lujan & Day, 2010 Broadley, 2010 Boyle et al., 2005 Lujan & Day, 2010 Lujan & Day, 2010 Lujan & Day, 2010 Cultural
Barriers Incorporate mandates in goals Include all stakeholders in collaboration Use outside pressures to make case for change Top-Down Demo Teaching & Peer Observation Autonomy & Privacy Attitudes toward Conflict Unclear
Definitions Outside
Expectations Authority
Structures Reluctance
to Change Loose-tight Distributed DuFour, 2004; Gates & Watkins 2010; Levine, 2011; Nelson & Slavit, 2008; Trotman, 2009; Grierson & Gallagher, 2009 Parr, 2011;
Penuel et al., 2007 Rubrics &
Other Tools Incorporate
Teachers in
Making Create
Spaces Barnett, 2004 Protocols &
Documentation Prepare &
Provide Strategies Give Time
for Collaboration to Develop Share
Successes Given et al., 2010 Demo Positive Effects of Networks Anderson, 2010 Establish
Trust Fisler & Firestone, 2006;
Musanti & Pence, 2010;
Pomson, 2005 Gates & Robinson, 2009;
Levine, 2011;
Meirink et al., 2010;
Pomson 2005 Given et al., 2010;
Grierson & Gallagher, 2009;
Hadar & Brody, 2010;
Parker et al., 2010 Attitudes & Relationships
Are Key Focus on
Goal Small
Substantive Gates & Robinson, 2009; Musanti & Pence, 2010 Gates & Watkins, 2010 Hadar & Brody, 2010; Lujan & Day, 2010; Meirink et al., 2010; Parker et al., 2010 Purpose What does the research say about teacher collaboration? How can PLCs support teacher collaboration? Nelson & Slavit, 2008; Parker et al., 2010; Zellermeyer & Margolin, 2005 Levine, 2011;
Varga-Atkins et al., 2009 Nelson & Slavit, 2008 p
c e
e t
e e
c i
y Future
Research Do PLCs impact
student learning? How effective are PLCs as a PD Model? Do PLCs effect change in practice? Does building teacher efficacy impact student learning? Nelson et al., 2010 What's Next? "Based on my observations, experience and beginning study, my goals for research center around creating more effective methods, structures and practices to support the professional development of educators." (Given, 2010, Program of Studies) "I plan to examine the dimensions of current barriers, personal attitudes toward teaching and learning, collaborative models of study and practice and the implementation of most effective teaching and learning strategies to meet the need of each learner." (Given, 2010, Program of Studies) 22 studies
13 qualitative
3 quantitative
6 mixed methods 18 gathered data over 12 months or longer Teacher collaboration requires time, space, and the building of relationships. “By connecting socially and personally our department has a better understanding of how we approach life, our careers and day to day challenges.  The analogies that we use are based upon our entire lives, not just our teaching lives.  Sharing the moments of celebration and seeing each other through hardship makes us operate as a team and know that we have much more in common than our daily tasks.” Teachers often talk about issues where they would like to see a difference/change made but seldom feel “empowered” to effect that change. "More efficient – collaboration is – saves energy instead of working individually you are working off of one another's ideas – a new way of thinking of things – can reproduce brighter results – some teachers are ready to collaborate but do not have the same opportunities as everyone else – missing out on the efficiency – the time we meet is out of necessity’s sake rather than moving our practice forward." Teacher Collaboration Improves
Student Programming & Instruction Kids – tigers traps - kids decide what they were going to be – I collaborated with Vera to put the whole program together which allows kids to take over – Navig8ors – (collaboration can allow for growth and learning for students and sponenaeity for others – foundation and then growth can occur out of that. "Team meeting – minus “me” and this person is explaining – good discussion going on about a student and I’m not a part of it – I miss this and I miss connecting with adults about kids." What About the Loners? "That’s what my collaboration looks like – an empty space that’s prepared for students
Not much happening – No other adults in the room – Lunch duty is the main time I see other adults. One other person and I taught the same course the first quarter so she could tell me what was happening – met on own – for keeping up with curriculum and covering alignment – rather than professional growth." Teacher Collaboration Tools Teacher Collaborators:
Formal & Informal Technology Facilitator
Media Specialist
Intervention Specialist
Gifted Specialist
Principal "Might lead to collaboration with people you aren’t in “competition” with over salary (new rules about how teachers will be compensated based on test scores) Trying to make strides forward but there are inside and outside forces working against that plan." There’s time given in the day for core teachers and teams but fine arts are in duties with students rather than getting PD time or to make cross curricular connections – we don’t get to find out about all the things going on with our students. The Story of Teacher Collaboration:
Barriers & Opportunities Barriers Opportunities Background 6 participants total
19 photos

5 Middle School
1 High School

Media Specialist
Administrator Avenues Promises "Leaving on a 2 hour bus ride to a school event with a colleague is a time when you get to see how they interact with students, how they make an adventure out of a learning experience and how they make connections with new students." My advice to others wanting to collaborate is to connect to people as people; our team celebrates together and from there, collaboration came naturally.
it has made a difference in the way we work with one another. All people have something in common. Just like we find things in common with the students we teach in order to better connect with them, we have things (family, reasons for teaching, hobbies, etc.) that we can connect to other staff members over. Collaboration is extremely important because in Foreign Language, we are separate people teaching kids who have shared experiences in Social Studies and English classes. Our department realized that we need to coordinate these students’ experiences in foreign language to help support other curricula who see students of Latin, Spanish and French in a homogenous setting. "We should focus on what outcomes we want for students to have by the time they leave our high school rather than worrying that each teacher is in the same exact place in the curriculum at any given moment. Broadening our focus may help us readjust our thinking and be more about the big picture rather than causing stress over smaller details that in the long run, are not important."
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