Teacher Perceptions of the Supports and Barriers of Teacher Collaboration

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Wendel, Meredith
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Middle Tennessee State University
ABSTRACT When teachers collaborate, they amass collective expertise and develop pedagogical content knowledge. Teacher collaboration is often a school priority because of its positive impact on student achievement, teacher efficacy, and teacher satisfaction. Schools also have complex systems in place that impact the effectiveness of teacher collaboration. This study explores six teachers’ perceptions of their collaboration with peers and how it is supported or weakened by the organization of school structures, the leadership system, and the evaluation system implemented at their school. Three school sites were purposefully chosen for their expectation that teachers engage in collaboration and their different approaches to organizing time for teacher collaboration. One school allocated ninety minutes of daily non-instructional time plus ninety extra minutes one day per week for teacher collaboration. The second school follows the PLC guidelines set by Dufour and colleagues (2016) and allocates fifty minutes of daily non-instructional time and an additional sixty minutes per week specifically for content area PLCs to occur. The third school allots fifty-five minutes for non-instructional time and has no additional time set aside during the week. Two teachers at each school were interviewed using Seidman’s (2013) guidelines for conducting phenomenological interviews. The teachers revealed that the organizational structures and leadership of their schools had a greater impact than their yearly evaluations, which they saw as having little to no impact on their collaboration with other teachers. The teachers cited trust, particularly relational trust developed with their colleagues and the trust from their leadership, as a major support to the success of their collaboration. Time and the resistance towards collaboration from other teachers were seen as the biggest barriers to effectively collaborating with one’s peers.
Educational leadership, Educational administration, Secondary education