Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, many have called attention to underperforming schools. The Department of Education studied the issue for potential school improvement and discovered a novel-yet-simple solution: collaboration.
A growing body of evidence suggests that teacher collaboration can help solve some of the problems plaguing our schools. In a set of studies during the late 2000s, Susan M. Kardos and Susan Moore Johnson found that many new teachers reported counterproductive working environments: “many novice teachers report that their work is solitary, that they are expected to be prematurely expert and independent, and that their fellow teachers do not share a sense of collective responsibility for their school.” In effective collaborative environments, however, “new teachers interact with experienced colleagues in an ongoing way.” Teachers feel invested in and supported by the school; thus, they work together for school improvement.
One way administrators can encourage collaboration is to provide time for teachers to congregate and share ideas. Jennifer Davis, in “Give Teachers Time to Collaborate,” highlights the importance of time in school improvement. Teachers must divide their time between class preparation, teaching, faculty meetings, grading, and other responsibilities; there is simply not enough time in the normal workday to collaborate–a deficiency that can lead to lower-quality education. Davis writes, “As teachers work together to strengthen their teaching skills, they also can augment instructional practice dramatically, and thus make their time with students even more valuable.”
In an online master’s degree in education program, future administrators learn that teacher collaboration does not develop without the proper support. As Carla Thomas McClure reports in “The Benefits of Teacher Collaboration,” examinations by the Institute of Education Sciences revealed that “teachers found it especially useful to have a designated day, time and agenda for their meetings” and “In some cases… teachers needed technical assistance from outside facilitators or district staff.” These findings highlight the need for administrative support, not only regarding collaboration but also the technology behind it.