I describe the elementary school classrooms of today with terms such as collaborative, talkative, active, thinking, and problem solving. Close your eyes and envision such a classroom. Do you see students moving around? Do you hear the students talking? Do you see collaborative work being done and problems being solved? These images make me smile and happy that I am an educator. Conjuring up images around the happenings of what goes on at an elementary school is simple. Now, what do you see when you imagine teacher planning time? Is it in line with how students work together to learn?
Teachers need time and space in their schools to plan, collaborate, learn, and reflect together. The key elements that go along with supporting a strong collaborative collegiality within a teaching staff is to embed teacher learning into their everyday job. If teachers have opportunities at school to help each other plan and learn, then statistics show that seasoned teachers are more apt to keep teaching and new teachers are more likely to stay because they have the help and guidance of their more experienced colleagues. Having set opportunities to work, learn, and plan together around student data allows for entire staff opportunities to refine their teaching practices. Thus, better teaching lends to higher achievements by students.
Teachers have a wealth of expertise but seldom have opportunities to share it with others and build around it. I believe we could heighten education culture by changing the way we schedule time for teachers to work together. By doing so, school improvement would happen, and teachers would have time to examine data and the curricula they teach, and how best to teach. Just like we expect students to learn together, so too should teachers. That old saying, “90% of what we attempt to teach to others, we learn and retain,” seems spot on to me. How about you?