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Maximizing the Impact of Teacher Collaboration (page 3)

— The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement
Updated on Jul 9, 2010

5. Do We Share What We Learn?

Sharing is a critical component of learning communities (Hord, 1997; Leo & Cowan, 2000; Morrissey, 2000). A truly productive collaboration leads not only to individual reflection on instructional practice but also to conversation among collaborators about what they have learned. Also, it is a sign that teachers have moved to deprivatize their practices and accept their own vulnerability as learners as well as teachers.

Despite its value, the ability and willingness to share insights about one’s own classroom practice takes time to develop and requires a high degree of trust and professional respect. “Shared personal practice is often the last dimension to be developed. It is relatively uncommon for school staff to share their classroom practice with their peers in a formalized setting with the intent to improve and change [it],” say authors Leo & Cowan (2000, p. 13). As professionals develop a greater ease with sharing, it can grow from contributing insights during a book study or reporting on a classroom action research project to peer observation, consultation, or even peer instructional coaching.

Conclusion

 
Structured professional collaboration that focuses on improved instruction benefits both teachers and students. School staff members who aspire to grow through professional learning communities can start by learning how to more effectively use the opportunities they have to work together.

References

Annenberg Institute for School Reform. (2004). Professional learning communities: Professional development strategies that improve instruction. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.annenberginstitute.org/pdf/ProfLearning.pdf

The Collaborative. (n.d.). Looking at student work: Protocols. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.lasw.org/protocols.html

DuFour, R. (2004, May). What is a “professional learning community”? Educational Leadership, 61(8), 6–11.

DuFour, R., & Burnette, B. (2002, Summer). Pull out negativity by its roots. Journal of Staff Development, 23(3), 27–30. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.nsdc.org/library/publications/jsd/burnette233.cfm

Duke, D. L. (2006, June). What we know and don’t know about improving low-performing schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(10), 728–734. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.pdkintl.org/kappan/k_v87/k0606duk.htm

Hord, S. M. (1997). Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.sedl.org/pubs/change34/plc-cha34.pdf

Leo, T., & Cowan, D. (2000). Launching professional learning communities: Beginning actions. Issues…about Change, 8(1) 1–16. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.sedl.org/change/issues/issues81/issues-8.1.pdf

Morrissey, M. S. (2000). Professional learning communities: An ongoing exploration. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.sedl.org/pubs/change45/plc-ongoing.pdf

National Staff Development Council. (2001a). Collaboration skills. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.nsdc.org/standards/collaborationskills.cfm

National Staff Development Council. (2001b). Data-driven. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.nsdc.org/standards/datadriven.cfm

Parsad, B., Lewis, L., & Farris, E. (2001). Teacher preparation and professional development: 2000 (NCES 2001-088). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/2001088.pdf

Yap, K. O. (2005, April). Turning low-performing schools into high-performing learning communities: Critical lessons in school reform. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Montreal, Canada. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.nwrel.org/aera05/yap.pdf

Additional Resource for Data-Driven Decision Making

The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. (2006). Data-driven decision making. Retrieved March 22, 2007, from http://www.centerforcsri.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=85&Itemid=77

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