“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” ~ Abigail Adams
Today’s teachers are often stressed out, coping with high workloads and time commitments that extend far beyond their classrooms. While they may spend a lot of time with students, much of their work is done alone and that can lead to a sense of isolation. Teacher collaboration can help make teachers feel supported.
At Alludo, we are big believers in collaboration because we know how much it can support teachers and reduce teacher turnover. We’ve recently added a Message Board feature to our platform to support collaboration. So, with that in mind, here are our thoughts on the importance of collaboration plus five benefits of teacher collaboration in education and some suggestions on how to promote collaboration in your school district.
Table of Contents
- Why Is It Important for Teachers to Collaborate?
- 5 Benefits of Teacher Collaboration
- How Can You Promote Teacher Collaboration?
- Alludo's Take
- Promote Teacher Collaboration in Your District
Why Is It Important for Teachers to Collaborate?
There’s a reason that group projects are a staple in the classroom. Individual learning is important but learning in a group provides a vibrant, dynamic environment in which students can grasp new concepts and learn how to work with one another. Since teachers are also students, it should come as no surprise that collaboration among teachers is beneficial.
Here are some of the reasons that collaboration is essential for all teachers:
- Collaboration contributes naturally to school improvement. While teachers may lead their classes alone, all teachers in a school must work together for the benefit of their students. Teacher collaboration leads naturally to school improvement because it connects teachers with one another and allows them to share in the pursuit of school and district goals.
- Collaboration develops relationships and provides emotional support. Teaching can be a solitary profession and when teachers feel emotionally disconnected, they may become dissatisfied with their jobs. Collaboration builds healthy peer relationships among teachers and provides teachers with the emotional support they need to excel in their jobs.
- Collaboration encourages the use of technology to help teachers connect with one another. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of technology in education. Ongoing teacher collaboration uses technology because it provides teachers with a convenient way to communicate and connect with one another.
- Collaboration allows teachers to play to their strengths and learn from one another. Even the best teachers can learn new things every day. When school districts encourage teachers to collaborate, they can share their challenges and struggles and get advice on how to get the best possible results for their students.
Collaboration may sometimes occur naturally and without assistance from school leaders, but those districts that encourage collaboration are likely to have lower teacher turnover and higher student achievement than those that don’t.
5 Benefits of Teacher Collaboration
Now that you understand why teacher collaboration is important, here are five benefits of teacher collaboration that you should know, so you can work toward promoting collaboration in your school district.
#1: It Helps Teachers Brainstorm Creative Ideas & Lesson Plans
All people are creative in some way, whether they’re artists or great problem solvers. The best creators are those who remain open to outside ideas and willing to collaborate with others.
Teacher collaboration can benefit schools and students because it gives teachers the opportunity and freedom to brainstorm new ideas that they can use in the classroom. For example, they might swap ideas for how to introduce complex concepts to students, collaborate on lesson planning, or even brainstorm ways to engage students who are struggling.
In other words, collaboration can serve as a hive mind where teachers elevate one another by pooling their ideas. By moving out of their comfort zones, teachers can improve their performance in the classroom.
#2: It Provides an Avenue for Professional Growth
Professional growth can sometimes be a struggle for teachers, particularly when professional development is lackluster and not learner-centered. With collaboration, teachers can learn from their peers, observing one another and asking questions as they work to build new skills and competencies.
The process of collaboration can spur self-reflection related to professional growth. When school districts encourage collaborative learning, teachers are more likely to interact with one another in a beneficial way, using dialogue, constructive feedback, and other tools to encourage growth and improve teachers’ performance and student results.
#3: It Leads to Improved Student Outcomes
Helping students is the top goal of every teacher. There’s no denying that teachers have challenging jobs, particularly when a student is struggling or when the teacher has exhausted multiple strategies to connect with students.
Teacher collaboration on the job allows educators to put their heads together to discuss students’ struggles and brainstorm new ways to help them. With multiple people engaged in the work of improving student outcomes, it should come as no surprise that collaboration can help to increase student engagement, raise test scores, and even lead to higher graduation rates and college enrollment.
#4: It Aids in the Success of School and District Initiatives
Every school district and school has goals and initiatives that they want to achieve. Even when goals are clearly communicated, it may be a challenge to get teachers and administrators on the same page and working together.
In an atmosphere of collaboration, particularly when teachers understand and are invested in the initiatives they’re pursuing, achieving goals becomes easy because everybody in the system is working together.
#5: It Decreases Teacher Turnover
The ongoing teacher shortage is an issue of concern in every school district in the United States. With more teachers leaving the profession every year, it’s no wonder that assistant superintendents and school districts are eager to try anything that might increase teacher satisfaction and decrease turnover.
Collaboration provides teachers with a built-in system of support. While support from administrators is undeniably helpful, peer support may be even more effective at preventing burnout and turnover. Teachers who feel supported and appreciated in their jobs are more likely to stay in the classroom than those who feel that they don’t have peer support.
How Can You Promote Teacher Collaboration?
It’s one thing to understand the benefits of teacher collaboration and another thing to create a space where collaboration is encouraged. Here are some of the things you can do in your district to promote collaboration among teachers and reap the benefits.
Create a Shared Vision and Goals
One of the reasons we believe in the learner-centered approach to educator professional development is that we know that when teachers have a shared ownership of what they’re learning, they are engaged and committed to the process.
To encourage collaboration, make sure that your district crafts a shared vision and shared goals that your teachers believe in. If you do that, then collaboration will occur naturally and to the benefit of everyone involved.
Develop a Sense of Community
Is there a sense of community in your school district or are teachers on their own most of the time? Building community requires effort but the benefits are clear.
To create a sense of community, we suggest bringing teachers together to celebrate their accomplishments and reward their efforts. New traditions that encourage collaboration can help to improve morale and reduce turnover as well.
Encourage Discussion and Dialogue
Both dialogue and discussion have a place in teacher collaboration and learning. In dialogue, teachers learn new things, share multiple perspectives, and engage in active listening and understanding to connect with one another.
Discussions are an opportunity to move the conversation forward, allowing teachers to share opinions, make suggestions, and build consensus. School districts can and should provide teachers with the tools and time to engage with one another.
Work Through Conflict
In any collaborative environment, there is bound to be some conflict. Each teacher will bring their own experience and ideas to the table and others may disagree, sometimes passionately. It’s for that reason that establishing a framework to navigate conflict is essential in any school district that wants to encourage collaborative learning and group work.
Conflict from collaborative teaching may be uncomfortable but it can also be transformative. You can help teachers manage conflict by providing space and time for them to do so, as well as individual support for those who need it. It may also be beneficial to encourage teachers to self-monitor and practice good self-care when in conflict – and to remember that ultimately, conflict can be constructive and lead to better student outcomes.
Encourage Professional Learning Communities
A professional learning community (PLC) consists of groups of teachers who come together to learn about chosen topics and share ideas. PLCs may consist of teachers from the same school, the same district, or who teach the same subject in different locations.
School districts can encourage PLCs by providing a comfortable environment for learning and encouraging teachers to connect in ways they find beneficial. The community itself should develop a shared vision, establish goals, share resources, and work together to achieve their initiatives.
Implement a Collaboration Schedule
Collaboration, particularly in the middle of a school day, can be challenging to schedule. School administrators and school districts can encourage teachers to collaborate by making space and time for them to do so.
Some examples include encouraging mentor/mentee relationships, making time for teachers to engage in mutual classroom observation, providing teachers with technology to collaborate when they’re not in the same space, or making it clear that collaboration and creativity are something that you support.
At Alludo, we love collaboration. We collaborate with school districts every day to help them implement a professional learning environment to achieve their most important initiatives and goals while providing teachers with the support they need and deserve.
The Alludo platform is inherently collaborative, designed for use by curriculum instructors, educational tech leaders, and TOSAs, as well as teachers. The school districts that use our platform can set requirements for teacher professional development while still embracing teacher choice and encouraging collaboration.
We have built real-time checks for understanding and encouragement into our platform, which makes it easy for districts to support teachers and ensure that they’re engaged with what they’re learning. We have also recently added a Message Board feature that makes it easy and intuitive for teachers to connect, collaborate, and brainstorm ideas.
Promote Teacher Collaboration in Your District
Teacher collaboration in education can transform schools, classrooms, and communities. When teachers share their ideas, passions, and creativity, school districts reap the benefits in the form of increased teacher and student engagement, decreased teacher burnout and turnover, and best of all, improved student outcomes.
Want to reach up to 100% PD in your district? See how Alludo can help make it happen with our free professional development platform trial, including:
- Hundreds of core topics
- Asynchronous microlearning activities
- Timely and specific feedback
- Analytics that show learning impact
- Access anytime, anywhere