TEACHING AND TEACHER EDUCATION
Schools as Sites for Teacher Learning
Schools can function as sites not only for P-12 student learning but for teacher learning as well. Many have argued, in fact, that schools are better able to support student learning when they also promote teacher learning. Practitioners and policymakers have increasingly turned to teacher collaboration in instructional teams as a way to promote teacher learning and, in turn, student learning. But do schools with stronger teacher collaboration actually promote teacher learning and development? And, if teacher collaboration is important for both student and teacher learning, should teacher education programs consider this factor when selecting field placements?
This talk will summarize findings from two large-scale studies of school contexts as sites for teacher learning. The first investigates the relationship between inservice teacher collaboration and teachers’ effectiveness at raising student achievement. It finds that teachers improve at faster rates when they work in schools with stronger average collaboration; it also finds some evidence that teachers who report engaging in stronger collaboration are more effective at raising student achievement than peers who report engaging in weaker collaboration. The second study considers the role of school contexts in promoting learning among preservice teachers during initial preparation. It finds that individuals who completed their preservice student teaching experiences in schools with stronger average teacher collaboration, student achievement gains, and, to a lesser degree, teacher retention were more effective at raising math achievement after becoming inservice teachers of record.
Taken together, these studies provide suggestive evidence that schools with stronger collaboration promote preservice and inservice teacher learning and development. Results also indicate that teacher education programs should consider teacher collaboration, among other characteristics, when selecting field placement schools.