Schools improve when teachers work together, reports Miller-McCune Online. It takes time for teachers to collaborate effectively.

A large body of research shows that mandatory teacher collaboration, sometimes called “professional learning communities,” gets results. The world’s best school systems foster a culture of sharing what works and what doesn’t. In the high-scoring schools of Finland, South Korea and Shanghai, studies show, teachers are not like private emperors in their classrooms; they make their practice public, becoming the “learners of their own teaching.”

Wilmington Middle School in Los Angeles Unified hired math and literacy coaches to work with teachers, then added facilitators to guide faculty learning teams in planning, executing and analyzing classroom lessons.

“We went from complaining about what students can’t do to deep discussions about what strategies we do find success with,” says Diana Zarro-Martinez, who coordinates test score data for Wilmington’s learning teams. “We are beginning to see a shift in the culture of our school. The conversations have changed from what our students can’t do to what our students can do.”

Sparks Middle School in southern California allocates six hours a week for teacher collaboration.

Lisa Mims’ PLN (Professional Learning Network) is her Education BFF (Best Friend Forever), she writes on USA Today‘s Teachers’ Lounge blog. Her favorites are Edmodo communities, Linkedin groups, What a great teaching idea! on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Lightly Seasoned says:

    In my experience, this is absolutely true. It isn’t an instant solution, though — and sounds far less sexy than firing 10% of teachers for immediate improvement! Etc. In fact, it gives teachers professional agency, which is very counter-trend to today’s pacing guides and canned curriculums.

  2. Bleargh. An hour a week is fine for collaboration. 6 hours a week is gruesome.

  3. Lightly Seasoned says:

    I think our middle school has close to that — the teams all have joint plans. I don’t know if they actually meet every day, but the time is built in.