Part of the SCOPE research series titled Time Matters: Teacher Collaboration for Learning and Leading, this cross-case study and accompanying research brief, Teachers’ Time: Collaborating for Learning, Teaching, and Leading, were gathered as part of a larger study of four public schools across the United States that organized teacher time and work in innovative ways. Data collection took place in September of 2016, when researchers spent three consecutive days at the school. During the school visit, researchers interviewed the administrators, teachers across a mix of grade levels and academic disciplines (e.g., math, science, English, humanities), and the school counselor who is directly involved in creating the master schedule.
The cross-case report and research brief summarize the background of the project and its findings. The report and brief unpack the organizational structures and conditions that support how schools organize teacher time and work in ways that prioritize and bolster teacher collaboration, ongoing professional learning and development, and enriched opportunities for student learning. The project looked at and evaluated:
The schools’ reorganization of teacher and student time within the school day;
Teacher and student activities within the reorganized time;
The interaction between reorganized teacher and student time; and
The enabling conditions for using the reorganized time well.
We found that the types of collaborative practices in place at these schools engaged educators with different areas of expertise to share decisions and responsibilities towards a commonly held vision or outcome. As teachers learned with and from each other through collaborative relationships, they strengthened their sense of collective responsibility for student learning.
In the schools we studied, collaboration provided educators multiple opportunities to exercise leadership, working together towards a common vision, while bringing different expertise to the practice. It was not always, and still is not, easy for these schools. Strategically managing partnerships, maintaining the permeable permission to be different, avoiding meeting creep, sustaining the learning culture of the school through the inevitable personnel churn, and the need to continually change the schedule as the strengths, interests, and needs of the students change all require ongoing work. These schools would tell you, however, that the outcomes for the children and their families make it worth the effort.
This report is part of the SCOPE research series titled Time Matters: Teacher Collaboration for Learning and Leading and was prepared with generous support from the Ford Foundation. We gratefully acknowledge their support.
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