DAILY INSIGHT: How do you provide collaboration time for teachers?

By Steven M. Baule, CIO Advisor

Recently, I was at a meeting in a conference room in another district where the whiteboard hadn’t been erased from a previous meeting. I have no idea what the previous meeting was about, but the issues raised seem to be recurring themes over my entire educational career. I will take the next couple of blog posts to try to solicit what others are doing to ameliorate these issues in their districts so we can determine if these are legitimate concerns or just easy things to identify as roadblocks common to the ways schools are organized.

One of the issues raised was not enough collaboration time.

When I was a teacher, my colleagues complained we didn’t have enough time to collaborate. I hear the same concern from staff today. When I was involved in high school scheduling, we worked out schedules that provided the opportunity for staff within each core academic department to have the same periods for prep time. This was to facilitate course-level team meetings to provide more collaboration time for teachers teaching the same course. This was similar to the late arrival or early release days becoming more common in schools across the country. Obviously, technology advances provide tangible ways to collaborate and share via LMS, wikis, etc. I have seen the results of more collaboration appearing in classrooms during my classroom walkthroughs.

What is a reasonable amount of collaborative time for teachers and how to you provide it? Besides common prep periods for high school staff and middle school team meeting time and shortened days, what works to encourage collaboration and provide the time for it? Here are some things I have seen:

  • student assemblies in which the administrators and assistants manage the large groups, so teachers have time to plan
  • bringing groups of teachers in to work on a Saturday or during the summer
  • creating wikis or other ways to share data, lesson plans, etc.

What works for you/your district? How can technology be better utilized to encourage collaboration? What are reasonable expectations for collaboration among teachers?

Steven M. Baule is superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL. He has written several books on aspects of library and technology management and planning. Follow North Boone on Twitter @NBCUSD200.