Expert-Led Collaboration
Teachers are organized into teams, led by content experts, that have adequate time, support, and culture of learning to collaborate effectively on instruction.
In the systems we studied, teachers are organized into teams, led by content experts, that have the time, support, and culture of trust and learning to collaborate on instruction. Each team has access to agendas, tools and protocols that help teachers make the most of their collaborative time, as well as easy-to-use student assessment data to help adapt instructional plans to student needs. Teachers gain knowledge and skills through this crucial lesson planning work.

WATCH: Shared-Content Teams at UP Academy Middle School

Does your school system…

Organize content-focused teaching teams Less

Organize content-focused teaching teams that include all teachers working on the same grade-and content standards. Often, pure shared-content teams (e.g., only 5th grade ELA teachers) may not be possible; in this case, the systems in our case study prioritize as much shared content as possible. While shared-student teams are also an important form of teacher collaboration, we do not highlight them here because we focus on supporting teachers in shifting to CCRS standards.
Case study systems found that organizing shared-content teaching teams helped to ensure that all instructional staff, regardless of the students they work with, are aligned on the required level of rigor in a particular content area and can access support on how to use the relevant curriculum.
Case study systems found that teacher collaboration time was often most effective when teams work together to plan and improve their usage of texts, units, tasks, and/or lesson plans.
Case study systems found it was helpful to balance available instructional expertise across teams and achieved this by being very thoughtful in how they assigned individual teachers to teams.

Provide sufficient time for teams to collaborate Less

Ensure teaching teams and instructional experts have sufficient time to meet, ideally 90 minutes per week and 8 days a year dedicated specifically to professional learning.
How many days are teachers do teachers typically work each year? Please include all instructional days, teacher professional development days, summer pre-work days, etc.
How many hours do teachers typically work each day? This may vary based on the teacher and the school schedule; try to estimate the average for a typical teacher in your system.
This may vary based on the teacher and the school schedule; try to estimate the average for a typical teacher in your system.
How many minutes do teachers have each week to work together to plan lessons, analyze data, and discuss student work?
How many days a year do teachers have fully dedicated to professional learning activities? Please do not include any administrative non-teaching days like summer prep days, pre-service days, parent conference days, etc. or any additional days specifically set aside only for new teachers.

Ensure team collaboration time is used well Less

Provide team with tools such as protocols and facilitation guides and ensure that each teaching team is supported by an instructional expert who can support them in fully leveraging the relevant curriculum and resources.
Case study systems found that teaching teams used their time more effectively when they were supported and guided by instructional experts who are deeply familiar with content standards and have a track record of success teaching in the content area they are supporting.
Case study systems found that providing some simple framework and tools, for example, sample meeting agendas, rubrics outlining effective collaboration practices, and protocols for how to facilitate meetings often helped to focus teachers’ and experts’ time during collaborative planning time. They also collected ongoing feedback on these tools in order to improve them over time and maximize their use.
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