What Teachers Need and Reformers Ignore: Time to Collaborate

Saturday, April 13, 2013 -- Kristin Flynn

In the often-stimulating Washington Post education blog, Stanford University Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, an expert on teaching and teacher education, recently wrote about why collaboration is so important.

She points out “how rarely collaborative activities that are essential to improving outcomes are supported in our schools.” As evidence, she points to studies showing that between 2009 and 2012, the number of educators offering more than one hour per week of structured collaboration to improve student learning decreased by almost 30 percent. And yet, “where principals, school system leaders, and instructional coaches model collaborative decision-making and tackling problems as shared questions to be studied and solved.”

Darling-Hammond begins her argument with a reference to the changes that will result from adoption of the Common Core State Standards. She discusses how these standards acknowledge that 21st century learning places a premium on not simply acquiring information, but on the ability to analyze and synthesize what is learned to solve problems and formulate solutions.

For students to achieve those goals, a transformation in learning and in teaching is required. And the key to success is how policymakers understand, accommodate, and facilitate those transformations. In particular, Darling-Hammond references new research from the National Center for Literacy Education that not only supports the value of collaboration, but also quantifies just how little collaboration is allowed to occur.

Use the area below to share your thoughts on the value that you find in collaborating with your colleagues and on whether you have adequate time to collaborate on a regular basis.

As Darling-Hammond says about the need for smarter teaching through collaboration, “educators are ready for it, students deserve it, and our future prosperity and security depend on it.”