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Developing a Collaborative Culture

By Jenny Rundle, Dean of Lower School

Through the years, parents have asked what it is that staff members do on Wednesday afternoons after school has dismissed at 1:45 pm. Well, the answer is collaborate. School collaboration can be described as teams of teachers working interdependently to achieve common goals. Research has shown collaboration among staff is essential for sharing effective teaching practices, improving student achievement, and increasing teacher retention. An important element of teacher collaboration is recognizing that every student is the responsibility of all involved, not just individual teachers.

Collaboration takes many forms at Noble Academy ranging from full faculty to divisions to professional development and school improvement. On Wednesday afternoons, the building is bustling with conversations. Full faculty meetings are a time when staff members are grouped cross-divisionally to accomplish goals such as analyzing the most effective ways we accomplish the Noble Academy Way and brainstorming ideas in which improvements can be made. Division meetings are a time focused on specific topics which are important to the success of students at each developmental stage. The collaboration of the division’s team of teachers to address such issues as student concerns, testing data, planning division-wide events, and other action items essential to the operation of the division take place during this time.

Professional development is key to teacher learning and refining the pedagogies necessary to meet the needs of our students. Some of the various professional development opportunities over the past few years have been in the Wilson Reading System®, through the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Association Education Center, and COMPLETE Educator Training. Time to discuss new information and ideas for implementation is provided in order for teachers to synthesize the new information presented. Some research also leads to the conclusion that teacher-led professional development is a valuable tool to promote ownership and accountability. Fortunately, Noble Academy provides its teachers with both professional trainers to support their learning, as well as time and space for teachers to share their expertise with others.

When it comes to school improvement, all stakeholders actively participate. This includes administration, teachers, staff members, Board of Trustee members, and parents. All individuals work on various committees striving for continual improvement of our school. We all have a shared vision for Noble Academy but are looking through our own unique and individualized lens. This is why collaboration is vital to the growth of our school. Each team member provides a different piece of the collaborative puzzle.

A collaborative culture requires staff members who are willing to share, support, and explore together. Developing a collaborative culture results in reducing teacher attrition, improving student learning, and creating a school environment where everyone is thriving. We all know students love Wednesdays at Noble Academy but our hope is that all stakeholders will appreciate the collaboration that is taking place behind the scenes.

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