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Enhancing Collaborative Planning: The Ultimate Guide for Teachers Who Feel Unproductive Working with Colleagues.


Creating protected time for teachers to download collaborate with colleagues theoretically, it offers teachers the opportunity to improve teaching, and reduces the time they have to spend evenings and weekends preparing for lessons.

Teachers now indicate that they spend an average of €10 four hours a week collaborate with colleagues.

But the unfortunate reality is that many Australian teachers find collaborative planning a frustrating waste of time.

That’s a disturbing finding from two recent surveys by the Grattan Institute of more than 7,000 Australian principals and teachers at teacher’s workload And curriculum planning.

In theory, creating protected time for teachers to collaborate with peers offers an opportunity to improve teaching.

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What teachers told us

At Grattan Survey 2021 In terms of teacher workload, nearly half of teachers (49%) said joint planning meetings at their school were a barrier to having enough time for effective classroom preparation.

These findings were replicated across the country and were visible in both government and non-government schools.

And while nine out of ten teachers in Grattan’s Survey 2022 wanted access to curriculum materials that they could share with their colleagues, a majority were very concerned about the extent to which time for collaborative planning is effectively used to support this goal.

Teachers told us that time for collaborative planning is often derailed by other issues.

Fifty-five percent said they usually or always end up discussing non-educational matters at joint planning meetings.

Only about a third said that during these meetings they “usually” or “always” think about how to revise or improve instructional materials, or discuss how to use instructional materials effectively in the classroom.

Enhancing Collaborative Planning The Ultimate Guide for Teachers Who Feel.0&q=45&auto=format&w=754&fit=clip
The sample size ranged from 1,129 to 1,132 because not all teachers responded to every statement. Response options were ‘never true’, ‘rarely true’, ‘sometimes true’, ‘usually true’, ‘always true’ and ‘not applicable’.
2022 Grattan Survey on Curriculum Planning and Resources.

A high school teacher said:

For the dedicated and hard-working teachers, time for collaborative planning simply increases their workload (…) The ‘twist’ around the benefits of collaborative planning all too often does not reflect experience.

Three quarters of the teachers we surveyed identified a lack of effective leadership as a barrier to establishing shared curriculum materials in their school.

One teacher told us that their joint planning meetings were unproductive because “there was no one moderating different perspectives to ensure a middle ground was reached.”

Another said: “everyone has their own thoughts and there is little vision to steer everyone in the same direction”.

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The total sample size ranged from 1,168 to 1,178. Teachers were asked about either the first lesson in their schedule, the first lesson after the break, or the first lesson after lunch.
2022 Grattan Survey on Curriculum Planning and Resources.

How to improve things

The Grattan Institute’s research on curriculum planning in schools points to two concrete strategies for increasing the value of collaborative planning time.

Use this time first to select, establish, or refine shared curriculum materials as part of a school-wide approach to teaching and learning.

This is good for student learning: Well-planned curriculum materials improve opportunities for students to develop deeper knowledge and stronger skills across grade levels and subjects.

The Grattan Institute research suggests that shared school-wide curriculum materials are also associated with greater professional agreement among teachers on what to teach and how to teach it.

Once established, shared curriculum materials can provided a stronger “common language” for teachers to engage in effective forms of professional development and achieve higher levels of teacher satisfaction with planning processes in their schools.

Second, strengthen the leadership capacity and curriculum expertise of center leaders so that joint planning meetings are conducted more effectively. Joint planning meetings often fail without effective leadership.

Put joint planning time to work

The latest from the Grattan Institute Director’s Guide profiles five schools across Australia making the most of this precious time.

At one of the case study schools, Ballarat Clarendon College in Victoria, teachers have collaborated to develop shared, high-quality curriculum materials across all subjects and year levels.

With this strong foundation, teaching teams work together in regular “Phase Two” meetings, designed to identify and share great teaching practices.

In the mathematics department, for example, teams of teachers meet about once every two weeks to review the results of students on recent tests. If a teacher’s class excels, the teacher shows the group how they taught that particular point to help determine whether a particular approach—such as how they unwrapped a worked example—has contributed to better learning.

As the teaching teams identify effective strategies, the strategies are listed in the curriculum materials for the benefit of future teachers and students.

These are often small instructive details, such as the best questions teachers can ask students, the specific words used to describe a process, or common student misconceptions that need to be addressed.

As one teacher explained

It’s about getting the best educational practice possible. If someone explains what they’ve done in a phase two meeting, we put that in the slides for next year.

The lesson is clear.

Simply making time for collaboration does not always lead to better results for teachers or students.

Effective collaboration requires skillful leadership and a common language.

A whole-school commitment to shared curriculum materials can bring these elements together and provide a strong foundation for teachers to work together on what matters most: great classroom teaching that prepares students for learning success.

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