Strategies for Effective Collaboration By: Linda Mathai

Picture By: OreagonDOT

What are the benefits of teacher collaboration?

Strong teacher collaboration develops over time and requires commitment to the process. While the benefits are clear, collaboration can be complex. Patience in the moment and anticipation for the outcome can lead to deep teacher learning that translates into tangible student achievement. What will it take for there to be productive and effective teacher collaboration in your school? School administration and teachers need to work together to establish a collaborative environment. Collaborative interactions are an important and effective professional learning option for teachers attempting to integrate literacy strategies and content instruction (Thibodeau, 2008). Dedication and patience is the key to a successful collaboration. How can teachers make this work? What are some strategies?

Effective Strategies

  • Create a Working Agreement: As teachers it is very important to consider working together as a team to create a working agreement. A working agreement is a document that is created in a collaborative setting. Every teacher on the team shares an expectation that they hope the team will agree to. As a team, everyone decides on four to seven expectations that the team will abide by while they meet. These agreements are powerful in that they are created together as a group and created with the group in mind. Working agreement reminds everyone on the team of what they are expected of others and themselves when they meet. Start with values by coming together with your team and discussing what each team member values in student learning. Take notes of what colleagues mention on a whiteboard, poster, something visual that everyone can see. Once everyone has shared what they value, come to an agreement on what is valued as a team. What you value as a team creates the guideline for the impact you will make. Let team values be the focus when coming together to create learning experiences for students.
  • Have an Agenda: Before starting a meeting, it’s important to set an agenda that can be followed. Have this posted so that everyone on the team can see it. The agenda is a guide for the time you all have to work together as a team. It is a visual reminder of what is planned for discussion and a reminder of what decisions need to be made. The agenda also helps to keep the meetings on topic. It’s good to have a big white post it with topics that will be discussed at the meeting clearly visible so that the whole team can stay on task.
  • Communicate: The most important piece of collaboration is the ability to communicate and communicate well with team members. You must trust in your team and be willing to share your thoughts often. Try to use only one voice at a time. Actively listen as colleagues share their ideas. Come up with a system that works for your team when it is time to make a decision.
  • Find Other Ways to Connect: As teachers it is important to value the relationships we have with our students and with each other. Having a positive strong relationship with our colleagues helps us accomplish goals. If possible, teachers should plan a more social gathering with each other whether it’s at school or outside of school. Try and connect outside of the workplace and gain an understanding of where others come from. Not only is it nice to get out and talk about something else besides work, it gives you and your colleagues an opportunity to build upon the already established relationship. Connecting socially allows for the opportunity to just have a good time together.


“Teachers want to see other teachers in action. In an open classroom model, teachers create lessons and invite colleagues to observe the lesson and provide feedback in a post-observation session” (Burns, 2014). The focus of open classroom is on teacher behavior. When the observation is followed by structured discussion and information sharing, watching more skilled colleagues in action, it benefits both parties— those conducting the lesson and those observing (Gaible & Burns, 2007). Therefore, this is also an effective strategy for teacher collaboration.

By: US Department of Education

Digital STRATEGIES for teacher collaboration

  • Co-author a book, blog post, essay, or conference session.
  • Join an educational camp, twitter chat, or blog community.
  • Follow mentors, colleagues, and inspiring thought leaders on social media.
  • Email someone and ask for help, or thank him or her for what they do.
  • Comment on an idea that forces you to consider a new perspective.
  • Start something useful and/or fun, local or global, digital or physical.
  • Step out of your comfort zone and reach out to others.
  • Discuss both critical and practical issues around your classroom.
  • Co-create something you’ve long hoped someone else would–an app, a community, a curriculum. Even a PowerPoint or Prezi that clarifies some often misunderstood academic topic.
  • Ask for help, details, resources, or ideas.
  • Join Me–or us. Meet people, connect groups, create potential in education.
  • Enter into new terms with your local school leadership to push for innovation, resources, and better training.
  • Organize your curriculum, your professional learning network, your RSS feed, or even a local event of your own, even if it’s only 4 or 5 colleagues for a book club at Starbucks.

ExPECTATION from Teachers

  • “I expect that teacher collaboration will improve my teaching and my students’ learning.” (Fred, English teacher)
  • “I know I am going to grow as a teacher. Hopefully, my students will benefit from that.” (Andrea, geometry teacher)
  • “As I learn, I will be able to teach my students better.” (Grace, earth science teacher)

- (Thibodeau, 2008)


Burns, M. (2014, November 26). Five Models of Teacher-Centered Professional Development. Retrieved from

Cabral, K. (2014, August 24). Scholastic Strategies for Effective Collaboration. Retrieved from

Caskey, M., & Carpenter, J. (2014, October). Building Teacher Collaboration School-wide. Retrieved from ArtMID/888/ArticleID/446/Building-Teacher-Collaboration-School-wide.aspx

Learning Bird. (2017, January 20). Video retrieved from

Matuk, C., Gerard, L., Lim-Breitbart, J., & Linn, M. (2016). Gathering Requirements for Teacher Tools: Strategies for Empowering Teachers Through Co-Design. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 27(1), 79-110. doi:10.1007/s10972-016-9459-2

Power of Teacher Collaboration & Mentoring. Video retrieved from web on April 20, 2017, from

Teach Thought Staff. (2015, January 09). 13 Digital Strategies For Teacher Collaboration. Retrieved from

Thibodeau, G. M. (2008). A Content Literacy Collaborative Study Group: High School Teachers Take Charge of Their Professional Learning. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(1), 54-64. doi:10.1598/jaal.52.1.6


Created with images by Mimzy - "back to school pencils rainbow" • OregonDOT - "Collaboration" • US Department of Education - "LEEHS 17"

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