Collaboration for Impact
Whenever conversations come around to the importance of collaboration, there are a lot of nodding heads and it would seem that everyone is on the same page; we get it, it’s important. Educators all have a pretty good understanding of what collaboration is and likely we tout it as something we are all doing so as to improve our teaching – to the benefit of our students’ learning. However, collaboration is at risk of becoming one of the most overused buzzwords and misunderstood concepts in education. We think we know what it is and yet it just might be the one thing that most teachers and schools are missing the mark on – although we are walking the walk – what is the evidence that we are talking the right talk?
Collaboration can enhance the effectiveness of learning in schools by ensuring that the impact of great teaching is identified and shared across all teachers. Collaboration requires that the entire school community shifts the narrative from incessant talk of deficits to esteeming the success that is already there and scaling up the good stuff that we already know works – and doing it all together. But doing all of this isn’t enough if you aren’t also evaluating the impact of this collaboration on a regular basis. The data from the Visible Learning research tells us that students progress through a year of schooling at an average effect size of about d=0.40 in terms of achievement. But when teachers come together to evaluate their collaborative impact, this more than doubles the effect that this has on student learning at an effect of d=1.57 – four times the average impact.
Tracking the impact of teacher collaboration on student learning can happen when reflecting on how students, teachers, and parents use a common language for learning that your school might have implemented.
Tracking the impact of collaboration doesn’t have to be done using special software, expensive professional development, or additional resources. Tracking the impact of teacher collaboration on student learning can happen when reflecting on how students, teachers, and parents use a common language for learning that your school might have implemented. Looking at student work to see evidence of impact, whether this impact is sufficient, and how many students are gaining this impact. Using student work to help diagnose misconceptions, highlighting pockets of success, and evaluating our interventions. Teachers coming together for these productive conversations that are grounded in concrete examples of student work circumvents any misunderstandings which may exist and allows for teacher-to-teacher mentoring in a safe and supportive environment.
Collaboration can open doors for teaching and learning through the practice of sharing understandings amongst all teachers of what a year’s worth of progress looks like as well as what the targets are for student achievement. Working together in a culture of evidence enables us to base our conversations on, in, and about student learning. This is the purpose of effective collaboration. It should be based on discussions about impact, who we impact, how we impact them. If collaboration is not about impact it is at risk of becoming just another education buzzword and it too shall pass.
This blog post was written by John Hattie and Ashley McLellan for LearnTeachLead.
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