Creating and Sustaining Shifts in Instructional Practice


As in most schools, finding time to collaborate is a challenge. The day is so jam packed, we as teachers often forget that there is a brain trust right in our building. Furthermore, when we do collaborate, we rarely focus these discussions on instructional changes to improve student outcomes.

That is why -- when we created our Action Research project in UVGSE’s Master of Arts in Teaching program -- we decided to study the connection between collaboration and sustained change in instructional practice. Over the course of the year, we were able to practice and reflect on new skills in facilitation, coaching, data collection and analysis.  The time spent processing with other participants in our UVGSE seminars helped us to learn from the collective experiences of our fellow master’s colleagues. The coaching was supportive, but definitely challenged us to examine and grow our practice and beliefs outside our comfort zones.

Given the opportunity to practice the skills we learned in class and apply them to real life situations, along with receiving constructive feedback on what went well and what we could do next, was really helpful. Learning how to speak with other teachers and in group meetings to move the conversation along purposefully allowed us to establish a collaborative environment in our school. We plan to continue building an atmosphere to strengthen collegial bonds and, most importantly, improve our student outcomes by collectively improving instructional practice.

Story by Ann Deturk and Emily Morrison

Ann Deturk and Emily Morrison both teach at Hartland Elementary School.