Collaborative Teaching & Learning Practices as the Best Approach of 21 century

(Mehr Parwar, Rawalpindi)

Strong working culture is generally missing in most of the schools in Pakistan which prevents learning practices at all. Principals and teachers often seem working in isolation trying to avoid sharing ideas with each other neither they- go through building strong professional relationships with their students. Such kind of working culture reduces the opportunity for interaction and professional dialogues on classroom teaching and students learning outcomes. Whereas modern education demands strong teacher collaboration through interaction and socialization.

Teacher collaboration is defined as engaging in regular routines where teachers communicate about classroom experiences and learning achievements to strengthen pedagogical expertise and support each-other to initiate new steps. Davis. 2003. Great professional learning communities practice systematic process in which teachers work together to analyze and improve their classroom practices. This process, in turn, leads to higher levels of students’ achievements and academic success in the school. In such school cultures collaborative conversations happen routinely throughout the year. Teachers use frequent formative assessments to investigate the questions through exploring what students are learning and what they need to learn? This inquiry process helps the teachers to identify the students who needs additional time and support in learning, rather than relying solely on summative assessments. These discussions give every teacher someone to turn to and talk to, and share their successes and issues in classroom teaching and students learning. DuFour 2004, strongly emphasized on teachers to work in teams, by engaging themselves in an ongoing cycle of reflection and questions to promote deep team learning and understanding. Such kind of coordination and interaction among teachers demonstrate that every teacher is part of such a powerful learning process that focuses on student learning. In this collaborative learning process every teachers focus their efforts on crucial questions related to learning and generates products that focus essential outcomes, different kinds of assessment, analyses of student achievement, and strategies for improving results. Teachers further develop norms to clarify expectations regarding roles, responsibilities, and relationships among each other. Here role of the Principal is vital to foster teachers’ collaboration with the approach of instructional leadership and sharing leadership. Principals as school leaders are instrumental in providing necessary support and focus for collaboration to be effective. Modern research explores higher level of teacher collaboration as a tool to improve students’ learning achievements. When collaboration is absent and teachers work in isolation, little professional growth occurs. Successful collaboration builds strong relationships among teachers and with students which is foundation to achieve desirable learning outcomes. Strong Collaboration in the school increases teachers’ motivation, efficacy, reflective practice and instructional innovation. Hargreaves and Giles, 2003 claim that a strong professional learning community is a social process for turning information into knowledge. Resultly it lays the groundwork for mental well-being of teachers as well as brings academic success in the students.

In order to create a collaborative environment, school principals must group teachers into effective teams. They must build trust on inherited ability of teachers to serve in leadership capacities, provide, professional development opportunities and involve them in important decisions. They also must delegate tasks and responsibilities to empower leadership teams where critical discussion and reflection on day to day teaching should be encouraged.

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