The Experience of Middle Grade Teachers in a Culture of Collaboration
Authors: Tamara Tallman
Collaboration is a powerful tool for professional development and central for creating opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice. However, school districts continue to have difficulty both implementing and sustaining collaboration. The purpose of this research was to investigate the experience of the teacher in a creative, instructional collaboration. The teachers in this study found that teacher-initiated collaboration offered them trust and they were more open with their partners. An interpretative phenomenological analysis was used for this study as it told the story of the teacher’s experience. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was chosen for this study to capture the complex and contextual nature of the teacher experience from a creative, instructional collaborative experience. This study sought to answer the question of how teachers in a private, faith-based school experience collaboration. In particular, the researcher engaged the study’s participants in interviews where they shared their unique perspectives on their experiences in relation to this phenomenon. Through the use of interpretative phenomenological analysis, the researcher interpreted the experiences of each participant in an attempt to gain deeper insight into how teachers made sense of their understanding of collaboration. In addition to the researcher’s interpreting the meaning of this construct for each research participant, this study gave a voice to the individual experiences and positionality of each participant at the research site. Moreover, the key findings presented in this study shed light on how teachers within this particular context participated in and made sense of their experience of creating an instructional collaborative. The research presented the findings that speak to the meaning that each research participant experienced in their relation to participating in building a collaborative culture and its effect on professional and personal growth. The researcher provided recommendations for future practice and research possibilities. The research findings demonstrated the unique experiences of each participant as well as a connection to the literature within the field of teacher professional development. The results also supported the claim that teacher collaboration can facilitate school reform. Participating teachers felt less isolation and developed more teacher knowledge.Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 207
 T. Tallman, “How Middle Grade Teachers Experience a Collaborative Culture: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis” in Research for Middle Level Education Online, 42:8, 1-16, DOI 10.1080/19404476.2019.
 M. C. Pugach and L.J. Johnson, Collaborative Practitioners, Collaborative Schools, 2nd ed. Denver, CO: Love Publishing, 2002.
 R. DuFour, “What is a professional learning community?” in On Common Ground, R. DuFour, R. Eaker, and R. DuFour, Eds. Bloomington, IN: National Education Services, 2005, pp. 31-43.
 S. D. Kruse, K. S. Louis, and A. Bryk, “An emerging framework for analyzing school based professional community,” in Professionalism and Community: Perspectives on Reforming Urban Schools, K. S. Louis and S. D. Kruse, Eds. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 1995, pp. 23-42.
 B. Achinstein, “Conflict amid community: The micropolitics of teacher collaboration,” Teachers College Record, vol. 104, no. 3, pp. 421-455, 2002.
 C. K. Chan and M. F. Pang, “Teacher collaboration in learning communities,” Teaching Education, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 1-5, 2006.
 J. Arter, Learning Teams: The Way to Go for Professional Development. Portland, OR: Assessment Training Institute, Spring 2001.
 R. J. Garmston and B. M. Wellman, “Better by the bunch,” Journal of Staff Development, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 64-65, 1999.
 M. A. Johnson and G. A. Johnson, “The insiders: Development in school with colleagues can succeed,” Journal of Staff Development, vol. 20, no.4, pp. 27-29, 1999.
 K. Zeichner and B. Somekh, “Action research for educational reform: Remodeling action research theories and practices in local contexts,” Educational Action Research, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 5-21, 2009.
 S. Cisar, “R Collaborative teacher research: Learning with students,” Foreign Language Annals, vol. 38, no.1, pp. 77-88, 2008.
 S. L. Knight, D. L. Wiseman, and D. D. Cooner, “Using collaborative teacher research to determine the impact of professional development school activities on elementary students’ math and writing outcomes,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 51, pp. 26-38, 2000.
 Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development and United States of America, Turning Points: Preparing American Youth for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1989.
 J. J. Wallace, “Effects of interdisciplinary team teaching configuration upon the social bonding of middle school students,” Research in Middle Level Education, vol. 30, no. 5, 2007.
 M. B. Schaefer, K. F. Malu, and B. Yoon, “An historical overview of the middle school movement, 1963-2015” Research in Middle Level Education Online, vol. 39, no. 5, pp. 1-27, 2016.
 K. Louis, S. Kruse, and H. M. Marks, “Schoolwide professional community,” in Authentic Achievement: Restructuring Schools for Intellectual Quality, F. M. Newmann, Ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1996, pp. 179-201.
 M. Brownell, A. Adams, P. Sindelar, N. Waldron, and S. Vanhover, “Learning from collaboration: The role of teacher qualities,” Exceptional Children, vol. 72, no. 20, 2006, pp. 169-185.
 S. C. Trent, “False starts and other dilemmas of a secondary general education collaborative teacher: A case study,” Journal of Learning Disabilities, vol. 31, pp. 203-573, 1998.
 L. Darling-Hammond, and L. W. McLaughlin, “Policies that support professional teacher development in an era of reform,” Phi Delta Kappan, vol. 76, pp. 642-644, 1995.
 M. A. Johnson and R. M. Kerper, “Positioning ourselves: Parity and power in collaborative work,” Curriculum Inquiry, vol. 26, no. 1, pp. 5-24, 1996.
 A. Kohn, “Resistance to cooperative learning,” Journal of Education, vol. 4, pp. 38-56, 2002.
 P. Robbins and H. B. Alvy, The Principal’s Companion: Strategies and Hints to Make the Job Easier. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2003.
 C. Lassonde and S. Israel, Teacher Collaboration for Professional Learning. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass, 2010.
 R. J. Sternberg, “What is an “expert student?”” Educational Researcher, vol. 32, no. 8, pp. 5-9, 2003.
 J. Constantine, D. Player, T. Silva, and K. Hallgren, K. (2009). An evaluation of teachers trained through different routes of certification. USDOE Final Report, 2009.
 R. DuFour and R. Eaker, Professional learning communities at work. Bloomington, IN: National Education Services, 1998.
 R. F. Elmore, Educating educators: A promising partnership between HGSE and public school leaders. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2000. Retrieved from http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/features/elmore07012004.html
 W. Hawley and L. Valli, “The essentials of effective professional development: A new consensus” in Teaching as the Learning Profession: Handbook of Policy and Practice, L. Darling-Hammond and G. Sykes, Eds. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1999, pp. 127-150.
 V. John-Steiner, Creative Collaboration. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000.
 J. McInnerney and T. S. Robert, “Collaborative or cooperative learning?” Online Collaborative Learning: Theory and Practice, pp. 203-214, 2004.
 A. Datnow, “Collaboration and continued collegiality: Revisiting Hargreaves in the age of accountability,” Journal for Educational Change, vol. 12, pp. 147-158, 2011.
 A. Bandura, “Social cognitive theory in cultural context,” Applied Psychology: An International Review, vol. 151, pp. 269-290, 2006. Retrieved from http://doe.emory.edu/mfp/B&ura2002AP.pdf
 A. Bandura, Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman, 1997.
 S. Chappuis, J. Chappuis, and R. Stiggins, “Supporting teacher learning teams,” Educational Leadership, vol. 66, no. 5, pp. 56-60, 2009.
 A. Hargreaves, Changing Teachers, Changing Times: Teachers' Work and Culture in the Postmodern Age. London, UK: Casell, 1994.
 S. Hord, “Learn in community with others,” National Staff Development Council, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 39-40, 2007.
 J. A. Hatch, “Pre-service teachers’ beliefs about urban contexts,” Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research, vol. 3, pp. 25-36, 2007.
 L. Jarzabkowski, “The social dimensions of teacher collegiality,” Journal of Educational Enquiry, vol. 3, no. 2, 2002.
 M. Christianakis, “Collaborative research and teacher education,” Issues in Teacher Education, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 109-125, 2010.
 O. Kozar, “Towards better group work: Seeing the difference between cooperation and collaboration,” English Teaching Forum, vol. 2, pp. 16-23, 2010.
 P. L. Grossman, S. Wineburg, and S. Woolworth, “Toward a theory of teacher community,” Teachers College Record, vol. 103, pp. 942-1012, 2001.
 L. Foltos, Peer coaching: Changing classroom practice and enhancing student achievement. Presented at the Puget Sound Center for Teaching and Learning, 2002.
 A. Sigurdardottir, “Process and design of a collaborative research project,” in EIPPEE Conference, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.eippee.eu/cms/Portals/41/Files/Hague%202012%20docs/A%20K%20Sigurdardottir.pdf?ver=2016-04-23-122500-213
 P. Graham, “Improving teacher effectiveness through structured collaboration: a case study of a professional learning community,” Research in Middle Level Education, vol. 31, no.11, pp. 1-17, 2007.
 T. H. Nelson, “Knowledge interactions in teacher-scientist partnerships: Negotiation, consultation, and rejection,” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 56, pp. 382-395, 2005.
 G. Troman, “Teacher stress in a low-trust society,” British Journal of Sociology in Education, vol. 21, no. 3, 2000.
 A. O’Neill and A. Conzemius, The Handbook for SMART School Teams. Bloomington IN: Solution Tree, 2002.
 R. Goddard, Y. Goddard, and M. Moran, “A theoretical and empirical investigation of teacher collaboration for school improvement and student achievement in public elementary schools,” Teachers College Record, vol. 109, no. 4, pp. 877-896, 2007.
 K. Hipp, J. Huffman, A. Pankake, and D. Olivier, “Sustaining professional learning communities: Case studies,” Journal for Educational Change, vol. 9, pp. 173-195, 2008.
 J. Creswell, Qualitative Inquiry and Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2007.
 J. A. Smith, M. Jarman, and M. Osborn, “Doing interpretative phenomenological analysis,” In Qualitative health psychology: Theories and methods, M. Murray and K. Chamberlain, Eds. London, England: Sage, 1999, pp. 218-241.
 S. G. Dean, J. A. Smith, and S. Payne, “Low back pain: Exploring the meaning of exercise management through interpretative phenomenological analysis,” Qualitative Research for Allied Health Professionals, pp. 139-155, 2006.
 P. Ashworth, “An approach to phenomenological psychology: The contingencies of the lifeworld,” Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, vol. 34, no. 2, pp. 145–156, 2003.
 J. A. Smith, P. Flowers, and M. Larkin, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research. London, UK: Sage, 2009.
 M. Larkin, S. Watts, and E. Clifton, “Giving voice and making sense in interpretative phenomenological analysis,” Qualitative Research in Psychology, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 102-120, 2006.
 M. van Manen, “Phenomenology of practice,” Phenomenology of Practice, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 11-30, 1990.
 Gibbs, G. (2007). Analyzing qualitative data. New York, NY: Sage Publications.
 Krueger, R. (2014). Focus groups: A practical guide for applied research. New York, NY: Sage Publications.
 C. Moustakas, Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1994.
 J. A. Smith, “Reflecting on the development of interpretative phenomenological analysis and its contribution to qualitative psychology,” Qualitative Research in Psychology, vol. 1, pp. 39–54, 2004.
 K. Pike, Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior, 2nd edition. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton, 1967.
 K. Reid, P. Flowers, and M. Larkin, “Exploring lived experience,” The Psychologist, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 20–23, 2005.
 L. Krefting, “Rigor in qualitative research: The assessment of trustworthiness,” American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol. 45, pp. 214-222, March 1991.
 M. Van der Riet and K. Durrheim, K. (2008). “Putting design into practice: Writing and evaluating research proposals,” in Research in Practice. Applied Methods for the Social Sciences, M.T. Terre Blanche, K. Durrheim, and D. Painter, Eds. Cape Town: University of Cape Town, 2008, pp. 80–112.
 R. K. Merton, M. Fiske, and P. L. Kendall, P. L. The Focused Interview: A Manual of Problems and Procedures, 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan. 1990.
 R. L. Shaw, “Celebrating the achievements and preparing for the challenges ahead in IPA research,” Health Psychology Review, vol. 5, pp. 30-47, 2011.
 S. Sarantakos, Social Research, 3rd ed. Melbourne: Macmillan, 2005.
 L. Leonard, “The continuing trouble with collaboration: Teacher talk,” Current Issues in Education, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 1-13, 2003.
 J. Bruner, Process of Cognitive Growth: Infancy (Heinz Werner lectures). Worcester, MA: Clark University Press, 1968.
 J. W. Creswell, W. E. Hanson, V. L. Clark Plano, and A. Morales, “Qualitative research designs: Selection and implementation,” The Counseling Psychologist, vol. 35, pp. 236-264, 2007.
 E. Drago-Severson, Helping Educators Grow: Strategies and Practices for Leadership Development. Boston, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2012.
 C. Eggleston-Hackney, “Catholic school faculty as an adult learning community: A model for children,” Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice,vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 388- 399, 1998.
 L. Lucilio, “What secondary teachers need in professional development,” Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 53-75, 2009.
 G. Mayotte, D. Wei, S. Lamphier, and T. Doyle, “Enhancing capacity to improve student learning,” Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 264-287, 2013.
 J. Dronkers, “Differences in scholastic achievement of public, private, and independent schools: A cross-national analysis,” Educational Policy, vol. 22, pp. 541-577, 2008.
 J. M. Murray, “Development and psychometric evaluation of the independent school teacher development inventory,” The Journal of Experimental Education, vol. 80 no.3, pp. 219-245, 2012.
 S. Kreisberg, Transforming Power: Domination, Empowerment, and Education. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992.
 B. Schneider and R. A. Snyder, “Some relationships between job satisfaction and organization climate,” Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 60, no. 3, pp. 318-328, 1975.