Teacher collaboration: A big help to student achievement

Posted on Monday, 6/10/2013 6:17 PM

So long as educators are open to collaborating with their peers, there is the possibility these individuals can arrive at solutions to the teaching problems they face. Whether they use faculty software to communicate with one another or meet in person, instructors with questions or concerns may receive helpful teaching tips from their fellow educators. 

Not only can increased collaboration between teachers improve the work these individuals do, but it can also enhance the academic performance of students in their classrooms as well, according to the results of new research from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte.

The positive effects of teacher collaboration
In the study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and appeared in the journal "Sociology of Education," researchers worked with data on 4,490 students who were in grades K-5 between 1998 and 2003. The focus of the study was these individuals' math performance and how teacher collaboration affected it.

Based on the study's findings, student math scores can rise when teachers collaborate with one another and have professional learning communities they can be a part of. According to the researchers, these communities help educators feel like they belong at a school and understand its mission. These instructors' skills are constantly undergoing improvements, which, in turn, affect student achievement.

Too many students missing out
While greater teacher collaboration can benefit students, the researchers found that not every pupil has a chance to attend a school where educators work together.

"A troubling finding from our study is that the majority of students are not studying in schools where teachers work together and where teachers feel that they are part of professional learning communities," said Stephanie Moller, a faculty member in the UNC at Charlotte's Department of Sociology, who also served as the study's author. "African American students are less likely than white and Hispanic students to study in these schools, despite the fact that they benefit the most from studying in such schools."

How teachers can increase collaboration
At school, instructors can always reach out to their fellow educators in between class, during faculty meetings or in their offices. However, teachers should never limit themselves to collaborating with individuals at their school alone.

Thanks to the Internet, teachers can reach out to instructors they respect on the other side of the country using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media tools.

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