Tuesday, April 17, 2012

But What Kind of Collaboration?

A recent article in the Atlantic emphasizes the need for more collaboration among teachers in schools. 

I'm not sure collaboration is always a good thing in every situation (people have different personal styles of working), but it is definitely important.  Yet, NCLB has introduced insane levels of micromanaged collaboration, where teachers at "troubled schools" are forced to spend hours upon hours on scripted "data analysis" programs that are often so poorly written and designed that you spend half your time just trying to figure out what they want you to do.  It feels punitive, out-of-touch, and limiting.  Teachers are professionals, and need to be allowed to drive their own collaboration in ways that are appropriate to their specific site, their kids, their instruction, and in general, how they would best go about building their practice with colleagues. 

If an administrator is worried this isn't happening, they shouldn't be relying on a process they they themselves don't understand, in order to enforce professionalism.  They should be actively engaging their staff and working with them to see and hear their ideas, and hopefully help facilitate a teacher-led process.  Currently, administrators are actually incentivized to be concerned only with whether the right boxes are being checked, and forms filled out correctly (leaving an administrator inclined toward unprofessionalism himself free to dodge his responsibility toward a deeper level of engagement with staff).  This depersonalizes the process, making their job even less productive, as they are forced to focus on what is often an arbitrary rubric instead of real teaching and collaboration.

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