Collaborative Lesson Planning as a Form of Professional Development? A Study of Learning Opportunities Presented Through Collaborative Planning
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Teacher collaboration is heralded as a practice that can improve teaching and learning in schools. Based on the presumption that working in a teacher community will increase teachers' abilities to meet the needs of their students, many schools are now organized to allow teachers to work in professional learning communities. In fact, teachers are encouraged, and sometimes required, to collaborate with their colleagues. However, little is known about how teacher collaboration leads to more effective teaching. This dissertation examines the relationship between teachers collaborating and the opportunities for teacher learning that arise through this work. More specifically, this study investigates teachers who participate in Collaborative Lesson Planning (CLP), a phenomenon defined as teachers who teach the same grade level or content area, planning together across curricular areas on a weekly basis, and implementing the collaboratively planned lessons in their own classrooms. Using a socio-cultural learning theory lens, this qualitative, comparative case study finds that teachers who engage in CLP have locally defined practices guiding their work. These practices include setting aside time for planning meetings outside of the normal school day, engaging in talk about the past as well as the future, and keeping students at the central focus of their work. As teachers engage in this work, cultural norms are established and a variety of outcomes are perceived. In addition, this study finds that the process of using and creating resources together enables opportunities to learn about students, content, and teaching. Findings suggest particular characteristics that contribute to on-going, long-term collaboration: 1) self-designed formalization, 2) joint positioning, 3) cultural and structural deprivatization, 4) utilization and creation of resources, and 5) attention to the instructional core. This dissertation illuminates how CLP, and collaboration more broadly, can serve as a form of professional development for teachers, informing both researchers and practitioners as they seek to support teacher learning through the act of collaboration.
- Education - Seattle