The term teacher collaboration may be used to imply various meaning. For example it may be used to mean teachers working jointly in a classroom to teach a number of students in a classroom who includes those with disabilities. Or the term collaboration could be used to describe teachers meeting they held for a discussion on students transferring from one school to another. In addition, the term might be used to report the attempts being done by the school’s committee to have a close working relationship with teachers. However, Niles & Marcellino (2004) defines collaboration as a type of direct association between more than one co-equal parties freely engaged in mutual decision making while working towards a common objective.
The following features can be applied to further explain teacher collaboration
Teacher collaboration is voluntary: Teachers might be needed to work closely, but the teachers can not be obliged to collaborate. They have to make a personal option to collaborate in these circumstances. Since collaboration is voluntary, and not directorially commanded, teachers usually create close, though informal, collaborative working partnerships with other teachers.
Collaboration is founded o parity: The teachers who are collaborating have to trust that each teacher’s contribution is valued uniformly. The degree and nature of certain teacher’s contributions might differ largely, however the teachers realize that what they provide is essential to the collaborative endeavor.
Needs a shared objective: Teachers can collaborate simply if they have a common objective, supposing the teachers are working on badly defined objectives, the teachers might unintentionally work on varied objectives. If this occurs, frustrations as well as miscommunications usually happen instead of the intended collaboration.
Entails shared responsibilities in important decisions: though teachers might divide their efforts when involved in collaboration, each teacher is an equally partner when it comes to making key decisions regarding the activities that they have undertaken. This joint responsibility strengthens the feeling of equality that exists amongst the teachers.
Collaboration is founded on shared resources: every teacher taking part in a collaborative attempt contributes different form of resource. What the teacher contributes has an impact of enhancing commitment as well as strengthening every professional’s feeling of equality Austin (2001).
Teacher collaboration is a modern practice in schools
Presently a lot of schools are encouraging the practice of teacher collaboration, for instance peer coaching (Niles & Marcellino, 2004). At the same time, Austin (2001) adds that, interdisciplinary curriculum development is based on teachers’ collaborative association. A lot of current aspects which are recommended for school reforms also call for improved collaboration amongst teachers (Friend, 2000). The tendency towards school-founded decision making is as well in line with the realization that teacher collaboration is lately becoming a necessary element in making schools succeed. McCormick, et al (2001) has argued that a collaborative school is simply to explain than to define it. A collaborative school, he propose, is a combination of beliefs together with practices which are characterized by the underlined aspects:
Has a belief: founded on useful school research; which state that education quality is mostly determined by what goes on within the school
Has a conviction: which is as well supported by findings from the research; that teacher instruction in highly effective in a surrounding which is characterized by custom of collegiality as well as continuous advancement.
The application of broad range of practices and arrangements which, allows administrators to work hand in hand on improving the school.
The inclusion of teachers in decision making of schools objectives and goals and ways of attaining them
School administrators usually realize that they deliberation on collaboration centers on sharing power with teachers and including teachers in the school decision making. Whereas these are essential elements of schools essential elements of school collaboration, a really collaborative school involves teachers working jointly aiming to improve their teaching in that school. This is what differentiates a really collaborative school, from that school that merely has a democratic approach of management. Friend (2000) established that, schools that are more effective could be distinguished from those which are not effective by simply looking at the level of collaboration or collegiality being practiced within the school. He established that collegiality is found in four particular behaviors which are:
Teachers taking regularly, endlessly and concretely regarding their teaching
Teachers observe what others teach regularly and provide positive feedback as well as critiques
Teachers work jointly to formulate, design, assess, as well as prepare instructional materials.
Teacher coach one another about teaching and its practice
As Gersten, et al (1999) have noted, teacher collaboration seems to be the uniting idea which will characterize a lot of the latest development within successful schools of 21st century.
How teacher collaboration relate to special education
Teacher collaboration and how it relates to special education can not be analyzed in a separation from other elements of collaborative schools. With improved education standards for each student being the main objective of collaborative schools (Murawski & Swanson, 2001) teaching collaboration in regard to students with disabilities has to be basically another element of a school collaborative norm and an essential component of the school tradition.
Collaboration can not take place alone, it can simply happen when it is related with some kind of plan or activity which is based on mutual objectives of the persons involved. It is important to as well examine some ways whereby teachers work in a collaborative manner according to their jointly programmatic objectives. Gerber & Popp (1999) observes that teachers can work jointly in many diverse manners to deliver teaching to their students. Gerber & Popp (1999) have explained a number of different ways which facilitate collaborative attempts in delivering educational services to students. The section below describes one application of teacher collaboration which might be employed to improve educational service delivery to all students, particularly those with disability.
Co-teaching is of late becoming a practical method for instructing in various school situations. For instance, in middle school, a group of teacher can meet on regular basis to have a discussion on instructional maters and also examine the progress of students. A lot of teachers in spite of their level contact other teachers to get engaged in shared classroom teaching activities both in a formal and informal way (Austin, 2001).
Murawski& Swanson (2001) explains that, co-teaching delivery method is as well getting increased interest as a method of integrating or incorporating students who have disabilities into normal education classes. When co-teaching approach is designed specifically for the objective of integrating students with disabilities, two teachers work together in teaching, one teacher teaches general education while the other teach special education. They teach together in the same classroom in delivering instruction to a heterogeneous grouping of students comprising students with disabilities. However, as Murawski& Swanson (2001) observes they are different kinds of co-teaching.
Benefits of teacher collaboration to schools
Teacher collaboration has different benefits to schools and to teachers. One of the most important benefit collaboration is enhanced opportunity it provides to teachers to interrelate with each other concerning instructional matters. In particular, teachers who collaborate with each other are highly probably to confer with their colleagues about curriculum issues and the difficulty they encounter in teaching. At the same time, Weiss & Brigham (2000) states that, teachers who collaborate are likely to get new ideas as well as feedbacks from their colleagues to assist them resolve these instructional problems. Consequently, teachers learn new teaching skills from each other which they can apply in their specific classes. As an increased number of staff members in the school take part in collaborative endeavors, a ripple impact of shared skills and knowledge could spread throughout the school.
Benefits of teacher collaboration to students
Teacher collaboration has a got a direct benefit on students, in way that the students are able to benefits from receiving instruction planned and formulated by two teachers. This combined effort from two teachers is most likely to be highly powerful than any teaching instruction formulated and planned by a one teacher. More so, when teacher collaborate, they as well model collaborative attitudes in students, whether the collaboration is done through co-teaching approach in the class, or by taking part in team work.
Another benefit that students benefit from teaching collaboration, is that when teachers work closely with each other, they get a viewpoint regarding student learning as well as behavior issues of the students and get a better understanding of students’ abilities and know which students require specialized help and which students may benefit more from more thorough interventions within the general teaching. In deed, in a lot of schools where collaboration is emphasized, the number of students who are referred to special education reduces and the percentage of students who are determined to be entitled for special services after being assessed become exceptionally high.
Teacher collaboration is a stimulating vehicle which teachers can use to plan, formulate and curry out a number of teaching services for all students, and more importantly those with disabilities. Formulating and initiating a strong collaborative tradition in a school presents added benefits to the school, the students and the teachers themselves. Particularly, teacher collaboration boots the teacher morale and also provides teachers with a supportive system. However, promoting teacher collaboration needs patience and cautious attention to various details. By managing teacher collaboration well, school administrators can make sure that teacher collaboration becomes the basis of their school.
Austin, V (2001): Teachers’ beliefs about co-teaching: Remedial and Special Education; 22, 134-143
Friend, M (2000): Myths and misunderstandings about professional collaboration. Remedial and Special Education; 21; 125-130.
Gerber, P & Popp, P. (1999): Consumer perspectives on the collaborative teaching model. Remedial and Special Education; 20; 280-294.
Gersten, R; Darch, C; Davis, G & George, N (1999): Apprenticeship and intensive training of consulting teachers: A naturalistic study: Exceptional Children, 57; 222-233.
McCormick, L; Noonan, M; Ogata, V; & Heck, R. (2001): Co-teacher relationship and program quality: Implications for preparing teachers for inclusive preschool settings: Education and Training in Mental Retardation, 36, 119-132.
Miller, M. (2005): Collaboration skills for teachers. Paper presented at the meeting of the Teacher Education Division-Council for Exceptional Children; Portland, ME.
Murawski, W & Swanson, H.L. (2001): A meta-analysis of co-teaching research. Remedial and Special Education, 22; 243-254
Niles, W & Marcellino, P.A. (2004): Needs based negotiation: A promising practice in school collaboration: Teacher Education and Special Education; 27; 411-417.
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