On the Atlantic’s National blog, University of Michigan education professors Jeffrey Mirel and Simona Goldin express optimism that the current movement towards a common curriculum could boost what they consider woeful levels of teacher collaboration in U.S. schools:
One of the key differences between public education in the U.S. and elsewhere is the lack of a common curriculum. In other countries common curricula unite the work of teachers, school leaders, teacher educators, students, and parents. ... [A common curriculum in the U.S.] would align the scope and sequence of what should be taught and learned, and teachers could collaborate with one another on lessons day by day. They could look at student work and assessments of student learning of that curriculum, and could coordinate their instruction to remediate and enhance student understanding.
Mirel and Goldin add that the Common Core standards initiative, though not a fully “elaborated curriculum” in their view, represents a “step in the right direction.”
However, even with a more unified curriculum, the authors note, extensive PD will be needed to instill an “ethos of collaboration within schools.” And they caution that the current education reform environment poses another potential barrier, arguing that merit-pay initiatives and other “teacher assessment schemes” threaten to drive teachers to outright competition rather than collaboration.
Thoughts? Does the near future bode well for teacher teamwork? As it happens, I was at the Education Week Leadership Forum on Scaling Up Student Success earlier this week, and my impression (from some things that were brought up) was that district leaders have a strong interest in making professional learning teams work. That seems like a good start at least. What’s your experience been?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.