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Teachers' Experiences in Collaborative Settings : A Comparison of How Two Teacher Teams Develop Relationships


Teachers are central to student learning. Without improving teacher practice, it will be difficult for schools to meet the goals of the Common Core State Standards and the 21st Century learning competencies we are faced with in our rapidly changing educational environment. School reform initiatives often focus on school structures and programs, but give less attention to helping teachers develop the capacity for effective collaborative practice. Most recently, a growing body of literature has emerged on the benefits of teacher collaboration as a key ingredient in school improvement, especially in underperforming schools. Collaborative reform initiatives have resulted in a variety of outcomes including: improving teacher relationships, building capacity, strengthening teacher efficacy and increasing achievement of students from diverse backgrounds. However, we know less about the effects of teacher collaboration in schools that are not underperforming, but where rapid change is taking place. This study was about the nature of relationships that exist between teachers who regularly engage in weekly collaboration. The purpose of this case study was to better understand the nature of how relationships among elementary teachers in grade level teams developed. The two teams (Team A and Team B) compared in this study developed relationships differently, as one team had stronger relationships while the other experienced challenges in relationship development. Interviews and observations were conducted to compare and contrast the teams regarding their characteristics and belief systems, how they use their collaborative time, and the structures and cultures that shape their work. Team A developed differently from Team B by spending more time on relationship building. The implications of this research provide information to assist leaders in supporting collaborative efforts in schools

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