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by Charlotte Danielson
Table of Contents
Most teachers in schools committed to improving student learning are organized into teams of some sort, such as grade-level or “family” teams in elementary schools, “houses” in middle schools, and departments or schools-within-a-school in high schools. The details of how each team's internal planning is accomplished is a function, first of all, of that overall school organization. But once that general school organization is determined, there is still much detailed planning to be done, and it can only be done by the individuals involved. For example, when teams are organized, the manner in which their members work together is greatly influenced by the master schedule. Of course, some teachers believe that they are most effective working on their own rather than in a team. Although this could be true for some individuals, most educators have experienced the benefits of teamwork and joint planning for professional camaraderie and student learning: when teachers work together to plan and implement the curriculum everyone seems to benefit. As with everything else about schools, there are exceptions to the general rule; in certain situations—the case of a middle school teacher charged with producing the school musical, for example—opportunities for collaboration are limited. But for the most part, team planning works to the advantage of students and staff.
The ultimate goal of teachers working together to plan the day-to-day instructional program is for all students to successfully learn the curriculum. The success of each teacher on the 3rd grade team, 7th grade house, or science department is a direct function of the success of all 3rd graders, 7th graders, or science students. Teachers in team arrangements cannot think of only certain students as their “own.” Likewise, teachers mustn't consider that they have “taught” chemistry if many of their students haven't successfully learned the required material; in such a situation, the program has not been successful.
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