3.6 Help Teachers Collaborate
When budgets are tight, districts and unions find it easiest to agree about safeguarding classroom instructional time as their top priority. In such circumstances, time for non-classroom work (such as time for teachers to collaborate on lesson planning) tends to be squeezed.
Most successful schools (and successful school leaders) cultivate “communities of learning.” In these schools, professional development and inquiry are integrated with the activities of teaching. Such collaboration is hard to put into practice for many reasons, beginning with the limitations of time. Collaboration, prep, staff development and meeting time all occur during paid work hours, and as such are negotiated elements of the teacher contract.
Collaboration is also challenging for basic, human reasons that are far from unique to the world of school. Some principals are more effective than others at bringing teachers together and resolving differences of opinion about key decisions. Some teachers are friends; others are merely colleagues.
A collaborative workplace is part of what makes teaching attractive, at least in schools and districts that are successful in sustaining such an environment. It is exciting and satisfying to work with others who share your calling.