The Importance of Teacher Collaboration in School and Student Performance

The Importance of Teacher Collaboration in School and Student Performance

If you’re a teacher and have been at it for some time I’m sure you appreciate the opportunity to chat with peers about their classroom dynamic; what’s working for them and perhaps more importantly, what isn’t. These informal teacher’s lounge gatherings are valuable and yet far too infrequent for most.

In fact, the 2012 Met Life Teacher Survey, painted a grim picture on teacher collaboration with more than six in ten teachers saying that time to collaborate with other teachers has decreased or stayed the same in 2012 as compared to 2011. With pressure on teachers and districts for education improvements mounting and implementation of the Common Core State Standards looming the need for teacher collaboration and professional development is imperative.

A recent Impatient Optimists’ blog by Lisa Niver Rajna aptly titled Teachers Need a Village highlighted this need:

Across grades, subjects and school types, teachers crave and deserve the kind of support that often, administrators alone can’t provide. Teachers, especially specialist teachers who may be the only teacher of a subject at their school, need to provide learning communities and create professional development opportunities for themselves. All professionals need time to collaborate, to think and to re-energize, and each of us must strive to be the linchpin we are looking for.

While true collaboration is best achieved through a structured process for exchanging insights and content, even informal teacher-to-teacher collaboration can have a positive impact on students. As Carrie Leana stated in her article in Stanford Social Innovation Review – The Missing Link in School Reform:

When a teacher needs information or advice about how to do her job more effectively, she goes to other teachers. She turns far less frequently to the experts and is even less likely to talk to her principal. Further, when the relationships among teachers in a school are characterized by high trust and frequent interaction—that is, when social capital is strong—student achievement scores improve.

With all the change that teachers are implementing in their classrooms, isn’t now the time to increase collaboration opportunities, be they formal or informal? What is your school currently doing to facilitate teacher collaboration or professional development? Share your insights below.

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