Team Up for 21st Century Teaching & Learning
New NCTAF Publication:
Team Up for 21st Century Teaching & Learning
Research Reveals that Professional Teamwork Is the Key To Improving School Performance and Increasing Student Achievement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 24, 2010
Steve Robinson (White House Office of Domestic Policy), Brad Jupp (US Department of Education), Tom Payzant (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Beth Wray (Pearson) and teachers from Howard County, Maryland speak on the power of teamwork in high performing schools at the release of NCTAF publication: Team Up for 21st Century Teaching and Learning.
The Obama Administration had focused the nation’s education vision on two basic goals: assuring that every student is college and career ready, and closing the achievement gap for low-income students and children of color. “This is an ambitious challenge, but if all we do is to fix the schools we have, the future is already over,” said Tom Carroll, President of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF). “To make this vision a reality our schools must be transformed into 21st century learning organizations,” he added.
Tom Payzant of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and former superintendent of Boston Public Schools, echoed these sentiments, noting that “if education leaders want to turn around low performing schools they need to clear away the antiquated policies and practices that stand in the way of professional collaboration in schools – stand-alone teaching in self-contained classrooms is not the path to the future.”
“At the heart of every high performing school, we find a team of effective educators who join forces to increase student achievement beyond what even the best of them could accomplish alone,” Carroll added. “To distil the principles that underlie the power of this professional collaboration, NCTAF has published a synthesis of research and case studies that should become an essential tool for school leaders that are working to turn around low performing schools,” said Hanna Doerr, NCTAF Program Leader and editor of the report.
With the support of the Pearson Foundation, NCTAF conducted an extensive review of research and case studies, which it published today in Team Up for 21st Century Teaching and Learning. While there is no magic formula, NCTAF found that high performing schools improve student achievement with professional teamwork that has six essential elements:
- Shared Values & Goals: The team members have a common vision of student learning needs and a well-defined understanding of how their collective teaching expertise can be orchestrated to meet those needs. They clearly identify specific learning challenges around which the team joins forces to improve student achievement.
- Collective Responsibility: Team members have appropriately differentiated responsibilities based on their experience, knowledge, and skill. They hold themselves mutually responsible for each other’s success, and they are collectively accountable for improving the achievement of every student served by the team.
- Authentic Assessment: Team members hold themselves professionally accountable for student achievement by using assessments that give them real-time feedback on student learning and teaching effectiveness. They use assessments that are valuable to them – not because they are linked to high-stakes consequences but because they are essential tools to improve the team’s teaching effectiveness, as measured by student learning gains.
- Self-Directed Reflection: Highly effective learning teams establish a reflective feedback loop of goal-setting, planning, standards, and assessment that is driven by the learning needs of the students and the corresponding professional development needs of the teachers.
- Stable Settings: Highly effective learning teams are not found in dysfunctional schools, but they can transform low-performing schools into successful learning organizations, if they are given dedicated time, space, resources, and leadership for their collaborative teamwork. Even the best teachers in the world can’t turn around a low performing school if they are working alone.
- Strong Leadership Support: Highly effective learning teams are supported by school leaders who build a climate of openness and trust that empowers team members to make decisions on how to improve teaching effectiveness that are directly linked to student needs. This support must be balanced with appropriate, positive pressure to continuously increase school performance with improvements in teaching effectiveness that are explicitly linked to specific student learning needs.
At today’s forum, NCTAF President Dr. Tom Carroll called on education leaders to use these principles to turn around low performing schools. He noted that “we have been trying to improve schools the old fashioned way – one teacher at a time. It is time to recognize that stand-alone teaching in self-contained classrooms won’t prepare today’s students for 21st century college or careers – we need to build on the power of teamwork that is the key to success in every high performing organization in our economy.”
NCTAF is putting the six principles into action by creating Learning Studios that enable learning teams – composed of digital-age teachers, tech-savvy youth, veteran educators, and skill-based volunteers – to develop innovative responses to complex learning challenges. Learning Studios improve student achievement, increase teaching effectiveness, and amplify the impact of community resources.
At today’s forum, teachers from a Learning Studio at Hammond High School (Howard County Public Schools, Maryland) spoke about their work as math, science, and technology teachers working along side NASA scientists to develop project-based learning modules for 9th grade Earth Science students. These Learning Studios demonstrate what educators can achieve when they team up to teach for the 21st century.
The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. NCTAF is dedicated to providing every child with competent, caring, qualified teaching in schools organized for success. With a network coalition of 27 states and links to professional educational organizations across the nation, NCTAF provides leadership on innovation and improvement in teaching and learning in America’s schools. For more information, visit www.nctaf.org.