Increasing meaningful collaboration among teachers should be a more integral part of school-improvement efforts, according to a paper published recently in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
The author, Carrie R. Leana, a professor of organizations and management at the University of Pittsburgh, reports on a series of studies she conducted on “human and social capital” in school districts. In general, Leana has found that students show greater gains in achievement when their teachers engage in frequent conversations with peers around the subject-area content and “when there [is] a feeling of trust or closeness among teachers.” A school’s social capital, she writes, is “a significant predictor of student achievement gains above and beyond teacher experience or ability in the classroom.”
Similarly, Leana says that principals are more successful in boosting student achievement when they concentrate on providing resources to help teachers to build connections than when they are bogged down personally observing and mentoring teachers.
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2012 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook