Creating Authentic Collaboration for Teachers Through Network Learning Communities
Network learning communities (NLCs) exist all over the world. Their purpose is to bring teachers together from across schools to work together with the intention of improving teaching. They are focused around the concept of collaboration. This allows teachers of a common grade or subject area to meet with each other on a regular basis to share teaching strategies, to create new knowledge, and to explore current data. Historically, many teachers worked in isolation in their classrooms. Today, more than ever, collaboration is necessary. Through the concept of collaboration, teachers are exposed to different techniques, improved practices, and stronger relationships with colleagues. Distributed leadership is an integral part of NLCs. This creates an atmosphere of trust and respect. When this culture of collegiality is created, teachers feel more open to share and to understand there is a purpose to gathering together. The focus of this research was to find the ways in which NLCs influence teacher collaboration. This was a mixed methods study that used a sequential explanatory design. A survey was done initially that included 44 respondents which was followed by nine semi-structured interviews. Key findings in this study were that a strong purpose with a clearly defined focus was critical. It was also recommended that there should be choice given to participants. Establishing distributed leadership created a trusting environment. This type of environment worked to develop strong relationships in the group. It was also deemed necessary that a sense of connectedness be maintained in between meetings. This would deepen the level of collaboration within the NLC meetings and create conditions for authentic collaboration among teachers.
Network learning communities, collaboration
Master of Education (M.Ed.)