School & District Management Letter to the Editor

Teachers Should Receive More Time to Collaborate

May 07, 2013 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Laurie Barnoski’s Commentary, “School Leaders: Don’t Let Your Teachers Lose Heart” (April 3, 2013), was an important reminder of the emotional and professional demands of teaching.

While I agree with many of the common-sense recommendations Ms. Barnoski had for encouraging our teachers, the most important thing we can do is give them time to work together, to collaborate. The idiom “many hands make light work” holds true in schools where educators are encouraged to build shared strategies to deepen student learning.

The National Center for Literacy Education, or NCLE, just released a survey report, “Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works,” with responses from 2,400 educators across all grade levels and subject areas. When asked what kind of professional learning they value most, educators cited co-planning with colleagues because it allows them to actively exchange ideas and implement new approaches quickly and effectively.

Sarah Brown Wessling, a good friend and former national teacher of the year, says collaborative practice allows educators to become learners again. As an experienced, innovative high school English teacher, Ms. Wessling knows that when collaboration is the norm, trust among educators soars and insights about effective practices spread. This leads to greater job satisfaction and sustained school improvement.

Yet despite strong interest in collaborative practice and decisionmaking among educators, results from the NCLE’s findings and the 2009 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher on collaborating for student success show that the time available for structured collaboration in schools is small ... and shrinking rapidly.

If we want to embed educator collaboration and problem-solving in the school day, we need to think boldly about how instructional time is organized, how to eliminate nonessential duties, and how other education professionals and students themselves can collaborate.

It’s time to stop piling on the initiatives and start building the capacity of educators to work together on the real issues that inhibit high-quality teaching and learning.

Kent Williamson


National Center for Literacy Education

Executive Director

National Council of Teachers of English

Urbana, Ill.

A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2013 edition of Education Week as Teachers Should Receive More Time to Collaborate


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.
Education Webinar The K-12 Leader: Data and Insights Every Marketer Needs to Know
Which topics are capturing the attention of district and school leaders? Discover how to align your content with the topics your target audience cares about most. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Explainer What Does a School Principal Do? An Explainer
Learn about the principal workforce, what makes principals effective, and how schools can retain the best leaders.
Image of staffing.
Andrii Yalanskyi/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Running for a School Board Seat? This Is the Most Powerful Endorsement You Can Get
New research shows that this endorsement in school board races is more influential than any other, with virtually no downside.
5 min read
People in privacy booths vote in the midterm election at an early voting polling site at Frank McCourt High School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City on Nov. 1, 2022.
People in privacy booths vote in the midterm election at an early voting polling site at Frank McCourt High School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City on Nov. 1, 2022.
Ted Shaffrey/AP
School & District Management High Pace of Superintendent Turnover Continues, Data Show
About one in five large districts lost a superintendent last year, researchers found.
2 min read
Image of exit doors.
School & District Management Finding the Source of PCB Contamination in Schools Just Got Easier
Researchers say they have found a promising method to determine where in school buildings the PCB contamination is greatest.
7 min read
Image of a brick wall and glass blocks.