Collaboration by accident

The release of the Gonski panel’s report into school funding last week highlighted the need to focus our resources and energies where its most needed: quality teaching and teachers.

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting schools in remote NSW and speaking to teachers about the challenges that this kind of remoteness brings.  It was a sobering experience but one that highlighted the point panel chairman David Gonski made last week – resources alone don’t make good schools.

A distinguishing feature of any school whether in the bush or city is not the number of computers or the size of the learning space but committed and passionate teachers working to meet the needs of their learners.

We know that teachers get better at what they do when they have opportunities to collaborate together.  Our approach at a local level to building agile learning spaces has resulted in teachers working, planning and learning together in these shared spaces but what happens when teacher collaboration happens by accident?

As I’ve often said the space supports but can never substitute for effective teaching.  Teachers can still be effective in individual classrooms but collaboration provides an empowering and supportive context in which teaches can engage in the kind of teaching and teacher learning that is effective in improving student learning.

In an interview last November, Linda Darling Hammond said that when teachers have partners to help solve problems and improve practice, they become more efficacious and therefore more satisfied with your career.  That was certainly evident in Cherie and Gayle’s classroom.

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