During our last staff meeting at David Thompson we had some discussion on teacher collaboration time, what we liked about it, what we gained for it, and what some of the outputs of the collaboration are. Part of the discussion was at least partly instigated by curiosities from parents. In the Vancouver school district there is some head-stratching by parents around all of the days that their kids are missing. These days are a result of budget cuts (non-instructional days), professional development days, holidays and some time allocated for teacher allocation. It looks like there is a lot of support for collaboration time, with teachers, administrators and school board people all understanding the benefits.
One of the things I haven’t heard about collaboration time is how it can be used to implement and improve assessment for learning opportunities in a school. Over the last couple of years I have spent a lot of time reviewing research on Assessment For Learning, and I seem to continually gravitate towards what Dylan Wiliam writes on the topic. This shouldn’t be too surprising, given his prolific publications starting with “Inside The Black Box.” In some of his more recent writings, Wiliam has highlighted the importance of teacher collaboration in being successful with Assessment For Learning. He looked at AFL across some schools in the USA and found that teachers had a very hard time properly implementing it. In order to be effective with implementation, Wiliam says that something like 70 minutes of collaborative time per month is required. Some things that may come out of the collaboration is teacher support, sharing assessment responsibility and collaborating on experimentation.
I think it would be fantastic if some collaboration time is set aside specifically for assessment, or at least if teachers are given a framework for AFL which they can choose to use in collaboration time.