Collaboration among teachers of literacy

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Elementary|Education, Reading|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Collaboration has been shown to contribute to instructional and curricular change in schools, but the nature of collaboration has been variously described (Risko & Bromley, 2001; Montague & Warger, 2001; Idol & West, 1987; Pugach, 1987). Collaboration is one process that has demonstrated effective transfer of new learning to classroom pedagogy (Risko & Bromley, 2001). Though there is no one universally accepted definition of collaboration in an educational context, most view collaboration as a shared partnership working on behalf of student learning (Montague & Warger, 2001). Equity and emphasis on long-term outcomes are some defining elements of collaboration (Aldinger & Eavy, 1992; Warger & Rutherford, 1996). However, all instances of collaboration are not productive, and specifics of how collaboration works have been variously described (Fullan, 2001). ^ This study of collaboration among teachers of literacy investigated specific collaborations within two elementary teams of teachers by examining characteristics of collaboration, including collaborators' roles; collaboration processes, including relationships and interactions; uses of various forms of power in the collaborative team; and decision-making processes utilized by the teachers that resulted in instructional and curricular changes. ^ The participants were three grade-three teachers and two grade-five teachers, the principal, district language arts supervisor, two reading consultants, two bilingual teachers, two special education teachers, speech/language therapist, library media teacher, and a literacy tutor, resulting in a pool of sixteen participants. Data were collected through interviews, classroom observations, observation of collaborative meetings, focus group sessions, observation of teachers' interactions during the day, and document analysis. Analysis of data was completed during and after data collection and involved organizing data into categories utilizing a coding scheme adapted from grounded theory methodologies (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Ryan & Bernard, 2000; Miles & Hubberman, 1994). ^ The study identified specific descriptors of effective professional collaboration among literacy teachers as well as an examination of the decision-making process. The descriptors that emerged from the data provide suggestions for others who might wish to engage in such collaboration. ^