Teachers Teaching Teachers
Teachers frequently complain that they feel isolated in their
their colleagues are friendly and congenial, they have little
professional time together.
is not the same thing as collegiality.
is defined as regularly observing other teachers; frequently
solving professional problems with colleagues; working
together to plan materials, lessons, and teaching strategies;
and supporting one another with best practices, advice, and a
shared understanding of the profession. A
schoolís level of professionalism is often in proportion to
the quality of its teacher-to-teacher professional
important way to form meaningful professional connections is
to implement Collegial
is a Collegial Circle?
Very simply a Collegial Circle is a group of teachers
(usually 4 to 8) who meet regularly to solve common problems;
to share opinions, research, and strategize; and to discuss common
needs, questions, and interests.
The goal of a Collegial Circle is twofold: 1. To
ultimately boost student learning school wide and 2. To
improve the quality of teaching school wide.
Collegial is Your Staff?
your staff's level of involvement in four core collegial
behaviors. Use the following continuum: 3=Strong;
2 1 Teachers regularly solve
2 1 Teachers
regularly observe other teachers teaching
2 1 Teachers
regularly share expertise
2 1 Teachers
regularly develop curriculum together
If your total is under
ten, perhaps your staff would benefit by implementing
To be successful and ultimately have a positive
impact on the entire learning environment, the following
attitudes must be understood and nurtured.
understand and believe that they can learn from one
Teachers must value the
expertise of colleagues
Time must be allocated for
Collegiality is an
investment in school-wide quality
takes time, energy, and commitment
Collaboration must be
supported and sanctioned on all levels of the organization
Parents and the community
must be aware of the value of teacher collaboration
Collegial Circles must be a
vital part of the schoolís professional development plan
should be expected, valued, and recognized.
Collegial Circles can
transform how professionals see themselves and their work.
Undoubtedly there are many different ways to
implement Collegial Circles.
Below is one step-by-step process that you may want to
One: Signing Up Join
with three to seven colleagues to create a Collegial Circle.
(The makeup of your circle should include teachers from
different disciplines and/or grade levels.)
Then select a time and place for your first 60 minute
Two: Groundwork If
you donít know each other well, spend the first half of your
first meeting getting to know one another.
As part of your introduction, share with the group your
reasons for going into teaching.
After introducing yourselves, discuss the three basic
start-up questions that follow (donít forget to have someone
in the group record responses):
Why is it important to
collaborate with other professionals (benefits)?
What group norms should guide the circleís interaction
(these are the guidelines for circle behavior)?
What do you expect to gain
or achieve with your participation in your circle?
Based on your discussion in Step Two, write a goal(s)
for your circle. Reminder: Keep
your district goals in mind.
If you have time, write expected outcomes for each
goal. In other
words, how will your circle impact learning and instruction?
Once your goal has been articulated, it is time to
brainstorm for focus
Since you donít have time to cover all of your
professional interests, be certain to stay focused on your
primary goal. List
your questions/issues/topics on a flip chart and then
Begin discussing your top focus question.
After everyone has had a chance to participate, begin
the process of narrowing and drawing conclusions.
In other words, answer the questionÖ What
can we learn from our conversation?
Prioritize your responses.
Challenge each other to collect research and to gather
ideas from professionals outside of your group.
Planning and Dissemination
When you feel you have explored an issue thoroughly,
agree on what you want to do with your new information.
In other words, how can you as a group move your
conversation into action or translate it into a product.
This may include things like research, observations,
curriculum products, blogs, classroom tools, classroom
strategies, tips, guidelines, mentoring, coaching, teaming,
workshops, training, position papers, etc.
how you plan to share your thoughts with your colleagues. The
activities listed on Teachers
on Target may give you some good ideas. These
on-the-job activities are designed to help you not only gain a
better understanding of your teaching skills, but also to help
you appreciate the depth and range of what it means to be a
teacher. The activities are designed to build connections:
To connect with colleagues, to connect with students, and to
connect with oneís professionalism.
As your Circle matures, take time to reflect upon
what you are discussing and doing.
Consider keeping a personal Collegial Circle log or
journal to capture your thoughts and feelings.
Consider how your Circle learning has impacted your
classroom instruction, the professional climate of your
school, and your own insight into your profession.
forget to celebrate your Circleís success!
is extremely important to maintain a positive and honest group
dynamic in your Circle. Below
are a few things to keep in mind:
listen , listen
all participantsóask each other thoughtful questions
and build off the ideas of others
gobble up Circle time with extraneous stories
schedule Circle meetings during peak times
a positive attitude
digress, bitch, or complain
to learn from one another
be overly negative, argumentative, or pessimistic
are a few representative research conclusions concerning the
importance of collegiality:
collegial problem solving is a vital key to initiating
positive school change (Linda Darling-Hammon and Gary
is essential to the success of staff continuous
improvement efforts (Judith Warren Little)
is one of the most important factors in determining the
quality of a school (Roland S. Barth)
is the key to stimulating a professional community that
successfully drives student learning (Fred Newmann and