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Running head: EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION

Effective Communication and Collaboration

Madeline Keever

Regent University

In partial fulfillment of UED 495 Field Experience ePortfolio, Fall 2018


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Introduction

A healthy collaboration environment within a school is essential for fostering successful

learning for teachers and students. Even after an educator enters a classroom, they should still

practice being a lifelong learner. One way to do this is by remembering that there are no perfect

teachers. Every teacher has something to learn from his or her colleagues. Collaboration among

teachers or other professionals in the school building is one way that schools can achieve higher

goals and continue to see student success. “Research shows that collaboration can be directly

linked to both teacher improvement and student achievement” (Vincente, 2017, p. 36).

Collaboration does not come easy for every school and it takes a lot of cooperation, time, and

energy. I have witnessed positive and negative efforts towards collaboration at Lynnhaven

Middle School. In my observation, positive collaboration involves willing participants who have

common goals while unproductive collaboration is often unorganized and resisted.

Rationale for Selection of Artifacts

To demonstrate my collaboration experience at Lynnhaven Middle School I have

included two artifacts. The first is a scan of notes I took during one of our eighth grade social

studies PLC’s (Professional Learning Community). The meeting involved important

announcements for collaboration opportunities, special events, as well as planning for the first

unit’s test. I jotted down one note on the bottom corner of my notes that I wanted to remember

for later. One of the teacher’s shared that when her class discusses politics, she teaches her

students to say, “I humbly disagree.” I really liked this and jotted it down. This is one example of

the little tidbits that teachers can learn from each other when they collaborate.

For my second artifact, I included a picture from our classes visit to the library. The

social studies department partnered with the new librarian for a lesson on digital citizenship. My
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teacher and I worked together, along with the librarian, to teach the students how to use a tool

called, Story Board That, to create a small project on citizenship. For this lesson to be successful,

my cooperating teacher and I had to work together with the librarian, utilizing her knowledge of

Story Board That, to make the lesson run smoothly. This demonstrates effective collaboration

between teachers and other professionals in the school building.

Reflection on Theory of Practice

Collaboration among teachers and other school professionals is highly encouraged and

often mandated by school administration. Research has shown that, “teachers improve at greater

rates when they work in schools with better collaboration quality” (M. Ronfeldt, S. O. Farmer,

K. McQueen, J. A. Grissom, 2015, p. 475). However, collaboration does not always result in the

desire outcome and mandated collaboration can be a source of frustration for many teachers. Just

because a school has mandated collaboration does not mean that success is around the corner.

Unfortunately, I have experienced productive and unproductive collaboration during my student

teaching. My cooperating teacher once humorously said, “Unproductive PLC’s are like arranged

marriages.” In my experience, successful collaboration occurs when teachers who are supportive

of each other come together voluntarily and offer their unique insight and resources. “Teachers

working in more supportive professional environments improve their effectiveness more over

time than teachers working in less supportive contexts” (Kraft & Papay, 2014, p. 477). A PLC

turned venting session is often a result of teachers who feel unsupported and unheard from their

administrators.

In my student teaching I have learned to never undervalue the skill of being a good

listener. This observation is supported by research that states, “When you take time to simply

listen-maybe not even give advice, but just truly hear another colleague-it can build the trust
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necessary for future joint work” (Vincente, 2017 p. 36). I have built better relationships among

my colleagues just by listening than I have built by giving advice. I have seen that teachers need

support more than they need a pep-talk. Teachers need commitment more than they need

initiatives. As a first-year teacher I understand that I will have a lot of listening to do, but I

submit that to listen, is to honor. Listening, with intent to act on the needs of others, is the kind of

collaboration that I want to be apart of.


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References

Kraft, M. A., & Papay, J. P. (2014). Can professional environments in schools promote teacher

development? Explaining heterogeneity in returns to teaching experience. Educational

Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(4), 476-500. doi:10.3102/0162373713519496

Ronfeldt, M., Farmer, S. O., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J. A. (2015). Teacher Collaboration in

Instructional Teams and Student Achievement. American Educational Research Journal,

52(3), 475-514. doi:10.3102/0002831215585562

Vincente, J. (2017, 12). What teacher collaboration looks like. The Education Digest, 83, 33-37.

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