Friday, April 8, 2011

Collaboration and the need for trust

Tschannen-Moran M. Collaboration and the need for trust Journal for (Tschannen-Moran) Education Administration (2001); 308-331.

This journal article is written for administrators, but even for non-administrators it is helpful in some parts to identify those qualities of a school culture that help to foster collaboration among teachers. This article, as have other articles, talks about the increased movement away from teacher isolation and autonomy that is part of the traditional school culture. It also touches on the benefits of collaboration, which include “the satisfaction, loyalty, and decision acceptance of teachers” (308) and notes that “the productivity and adaptability of schools can be enhanced by creating structures that facilitate collaboration among teachers” (311).

The article also notes that although the idea of collaboration is often met with enthusiasm, the results are sometimes disappointing. There are several different types of collaboration that are explored: Principals with teachers, parents and schools, and teachers with teachers. In the section on teachers collaborating with teachers, the article goes into more detail about the benefits of collaboration for teachers: Noting that teachers rarely have the chance “to engage in substantive dialogue,” the article notes that collaboration has the potential to “invigorate teaching with increased intellectual stimulation. Collaboration also has the potential to create a culture of shared values and create a supportive learning community. In order to do this though, teachers must trust their colleagues. And this is the main focus of the article, creating a culture of trust.

Much of the discussion is about the administrator’s role in creating a culture of trust, noting that in all areas of collaboration trust is a requirement in order to transform schools “into vibrant learning communities” (328), and noting that it is worthwhile to identify “how trust develops, what supports trust, and how to repair trust that has been damaged” (328)

Eval/response: Although this is written for administrators, this article is still helpful for me in identifying some of the obstacles to collaboration. In interviewing teachers around the village, the idea of trusting your partner was repeated, and although this article doesn’t really address the idea of trust between teachers as much as I would have liked, it still presents this as a barrier. And looking at this from an administrator’s POV, I could see how a loss of trust could impact a school at all levels and create a culture where teachers/students are afraid to collaborate or take risks for fear of jeopardizing their jobs

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