Why do teachers collaborate?
According to Hattie, he asserts that “collective teachers efficacy” has the highest impact on students’ learning. However, he is missing the the most important factor: How do administrators promote genuine collaboration among teachers?
A quick solution is grouping teachers in one place for a period of time, which is commonly known as a Professional Learning Community. However, recent studies show many schools failed to implement a productive Professional Learning Community.
To promote authentic teachers’ collaboration and teamwork, we need to understand teachers’ individual needs and the basics of teamwork. Most teachers have specific common needs to perform their teaching jobs:
- Grading: This is the most time-consuming task for all teachers. Recent studies show teachers spent most time grading students’ work. Most teachers don’t have the time to grade students’ work to provide students meaningful feedback timely. Teachers often take work home to grade after school or during the weekends. Consequently, some teachers often come up with strategies to streamline grading without providing students any meaningful feedback. For example, teachers utilize valuable class time for peer grading or just grading students’ work.
- Gradebook: Grading all students’ work is only one aspect. Another important and time-consuming aspect is updating the grades on the district’s gradebook. Middle or high school teachers have about 160 students, and updating all the student’s grades takes a lot of time. Consequently, some teachers develop strategies to grade students at the end of each unit to input in a single number for each student. However, it is too late for many students to make up any missing if teachers wait until the end of the unit to provide meaningful feedback and intervention.
- Late Work: Accepting, grading, and updating students’ late work an essential part of teaching. It is a crucial component of providing learning equity for all students. However, it is also time-consuming because it adds more chaos to teachers’ daily tasks. Consequently, some teachers have grading policies that will not accept any late work.
- Making copies: Every morning before schools or evening after schools, many teachers line up to make their copies. Teachers spend hours at the lounge, making copies weekly. More importantly, it is the most expensive consumable goods in schools. Most high schools spent nearly $50,000 on printing and making copies related ( maintenance, ink, and paper).
- Student Accountability: If you ask any teachers, they will tell you that student accountability has the highest impact on students learning outcomes. However, many are reluctant to emphasize these points because it blames students. Of course, there many other social, financial, and academic factors that also affect students’ learning. Nevertheless, conversation evolves into subjective arguments among stakeholders. Therefore, it is critical to creating transparency in teaching and students’ learning progress to provide learning equity.
- Eliminate distractions of cellphones: Many research underestimates the impacts of distractions from cellphones on students’ learning. They argue that teachers should teach students to self-regulate. If we look at around, we will see that many adults are more addicted to cellphones than students.
How we increase our teachers’ collaboration.
The core of the solution is inspiring teachers to want to make a difference in their professional lives.
First: satisfy teachers’ needs.
It’s very easy to increase authentic teacher collaboration throughout your schools. The two essential steps below outline how you can increase teachers’ engagement during Professional Learning Communities at your schools.
- Streamline Grading-related tasks: We create websites to host a flexible and comprehensive Learning Management system that allows us to perform 90% of grading tasks:
- Auto-grade adaptive assessments and provide students instant feedback. Students can self-assess and retry the question for partial credit.
- Comprehensive and auto-updated grade book that links all grades to students’ assignments. Students can make up late or missing work for partial credit at their convenience.
- Real-time data and analysis: Teachers and students access real-time and comprehensive data to evaluate students’ progress and learning outcomes. Identifying struggling students and provide meaningful intervention is now a simple task for us.
- Reasons to collaborate: Now teachers are no longer burden by time-consuming administrative tasks, they can focus on innovating engaging lessons during PLCs. Most importantly, teachers will gain the immediate benefits the shared resources and their teamwork.
- Shared resources and activities are customizable: Teachers no longer feel that they are dictated to do something; instead, they feel that are helped by their peers.
- Contribution is documented and rewarded: Often teachers refuse to share their resources they feel that they don’t need to. However, schools and districts can identify innovative teachers to reward them based on their contributions. Therefore, it becomes an objective system to reward students.