Fostering effective collaboration among course teams at the secondary school level
Stratemeyer, Matthew Ryan
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This study aimed to address the impediments to course team collaboration and evaluate the impact of instituting the professional learning community (PLC) model on teacher collaboration in course teams. The following research questions guided the study: (1) Which perceived barriers are most responsible for impeding course team collaboration at the secondary school level? (2) What effect, if any, will the establishment of Professional Learning Communities among course teams have on teacher collaboration? and (3) What does an Action Research team learn when they collaboratively work to enhance course team collaboration? The action research team comprised four teacher leaders and the department chair, who together developed and implemented interventions based on the PLC model. Three cycles of action research were conducted with 26 teachers in the Social Studies Department of a secondary school. Initial findings determined that time, leadership and teacher resistance to teamwork posed barriers to collaboration, and that the inclusion of PLC components improved teacher collaboration in course teams. In sum, action research was found to be an appropriate approach to addressing problems in schools. Several recommendations were provided based on the findings of this study, including creating sacred collaborative time for course teams, work release days, selecting capable leaders for course teams, providing professional learning opportunities for course leads, training course teams on the PLC model, providing district-wide professional development on course teams and the PLC model, and creating action research teams to address issues within the school or district.