Simple teacher collaboration shows improvement in the most critical skills
Posted by Janice Scheckter on 06 September 2017 8:20 AM CAT
Collaboration does not always have to be the outcome of a lengthy design process and complex tech. Simply getting teachers to collaborate around shared interests, common issues and creative challenges, can start to change performance in schools.
While always a little reticent to draw comparisons between the US for example and Africa, the following study, conducted across the Miami-Dade public school system, demonstrates some valuable outputs no matter where the location.
A study published in 2015, following research across 9000 in the Miami-Dade public school system showed that when teachers engage in high-quality collaboration that they perceive as extensive and helpful, there is both an individual and collective benefit. High-quality collaboration in general and about assessment among teachers is associated with increases in their students’ achievement, their performance, and their peers’ students’ achievement. 
What was really positive was that the results of this study suggested that teacher collaboration has positive effects on both the teachers and their students. Two areas of learning that demonstrated the most positive outcome were reading and maths.
Literacy and numeracy are the two critical skills allowing children to progress both in terms of learning and socially. They also appear to be two key pain points in the South African educational environment.
At A Better Africa, our focus in collaboration. Collaboration among teachers as demonstrated above. Collaboration between schools and their ecosystems; collaboration between programs and funders; collaborate between ministries of education and their implementation teams, etc.
We believe if people simply know, what was needed, where and when, a large piece of the problematic puzzle could be resolved. We see collaboration as a systemic fix. It’s one that can change both perception and behaviours. As teachers collectively deal with common and uncommon issues, their success will without a doubt motivate the process to gain momentum.
In conclusion, while this example appears to live in the world of primary and secondary education, it could, of course, live anywhere, in the corporate space, civil society and the public sector.
Janice Scheckter is a professional speaker on collaboration. Her keynote of how to survive and thrive in the collaborative era covers topics from business to education to the peer-to-peer economy. Janice is also a director of A Better Africa, the African education ecosystem and managing director of Indigo New Media.
 Source: Ronfeldt, M., Farmer, S., McQueen, K., & Grissom, J. (2015). Teacher collaboration in instructional teams and student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 52(3), 475-514.