Teacher Collaboration and Professional Development
Providing educators with the kinds of supports and learning opportunities they need to build and sustain student-centered practices requires an investment in a professional learning community of educators. Educators committed to reflecting on and improving their practice in collaboration with each other is essential to foster a student-centered school. Such a professional learning community has multiple components, including: an investment in creating a shared school-wide vision; supporting teacher collaboration (particularly grade-level collaboration); building teacher expertise in pedagogy, curriculum, assessment, and academic support; and providing opportunities for staff to learn from each other and reflect on their practice. This kind of adult culture requires a commitment to focus on student learning, take collective responsibility for school improvement, de-privatize practice (e.g., observing others’ teaching and receiving feedback on practice from colleagues), engage in reflective dialogue (e.g., discussing the goals of the school with colleagues), and staff collegiality and collaboration.
- Teacher Collaboration Envision Schools
- Linda Darling-Hammond, collaboration and professional development
Questions for reflection:
Collaborative Planning Time
1) How often does vertical and horizontal planning occur? Is it sufficient?
2) Do you get an opportunity to collaborate with teachers who share the same students?
3) How much time is embedded in the school day/week for you to collaborate with other teachers?
4) How clear are the expectations for how you and your colleagues use collaboration time? Who creates the expectations?
5) To what extent does collaboration time focus on student learning and/or teacher reflection on practice?
6) How is a focus on student learning grounded in data?
7) How often do you examine student work in teacher collaboration?
8) How often do you observe other teachers’ instruction? How often do other teachers observe your instruction?
9) Does collaboration lead to changes in your instructional practice? How do you know?
10) Does collaboration increase your use of student-centered instructional practices?
11) Is professional development designed in response to existing needs of the school community?
12) Do you collaborate with other teachers and administrators on how and what to bring to the staff for professional development?
13) How is the topic for professional development determined? What role do you have in identifying your own professional learning needs and identifying useful professional learning experiences?
14) To what extent are professional learning experiences connected to the school’s mission and yearlong goals?
15) How are collaboration and professional learning opportunities structured to foster teacher engagement and buy-in?
16) How do school leaders ensure that topics of professional learning lead to changes in teacher practice?
Cooperative and Reflective Workplace Culture
17) Are teachers in your school open to sharing with each other and learning from each other’s successes and failures?
18) How is a safe culture for educator risk-taking and transparency fostered in your school?
19) How is a culture of self-reflection fostered? To what extent is that culture modeled by school leaders?