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Leading Collaborative Learning
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Leading Collaborative Learning
Empowering Excellence

First Edition


March 2016 | 320 pages | Corwin

Leadership, collaborative learning, and student achievement – discover what works!

Today’s improving school systems require educators who intentionally collaborate and co-learn in service of students to get expected results. This resource-rich book from experts Sharratt and Planche is a straightforward, strategic path to achieving sustainable communities of deep learners. Research-proven inquiry techniques, vignettes, case studies and practical action-oriented protocols help you build strong learning relationships for high-impact student achievement.

System leaders, principals and teachers learn to: 

  • Integrate diverse views and perspectives
  • Build trust and hear every voice
  • Apply a replicable inquiry framework to leverage key resources and processes
  • Build students’ cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills 
  • Use “Assessment-in-Action” to improve, monitor and sustain student and staff progress 
  • Build a collaborative culture through learning together

Use this guide to transform your school from a place of ‘good intentions’ to a center of intentional practice today!

“Is your school ready to learn to meet student needs as a team? If so, Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence is the book to help your staff learn together in order to improve student learning.”
Renee Peoples, Teaching and Learning Coach
West Elementary, NC


“This is more than just another book on school leadership or school improvement. Collaborative learning is essential for success, and educators working in any capacity can find information here about how their role contributes to the process. From system leaders to school leaders to teachers to students, this book clearly explains the necessity of everyone’s participation in collaborative learning processes. As the authors state, participation in collaboration “is a powerful way to deepen educator capacity, to increase the value of the professional capital in the school, and to harness the power of the collective.”
Melanie Mares Sainz, Instructional Coach
Lowndes Middle School, VA


 
List of Figures and Tables
 
Foreword by Jim Knight
 
Introduction by John Hattie
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Authors
 
Chapter 1. Leading Collaborative Learning
Moving to Excellence

 
Guided by Research

 
Definitions Set the Stage

 
How We Lead Matters

 
Our Research

 
Broad Themes Emerging From the Research

 
Collaborative Learning Cultivates Leadership

 
The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

 
A Pause for Reflection

 
 
Chapter 2. From Theory Into Action
Conditions for System Success

 
Constructivism Frames Our Approach to Inquiry

 
Collaborative Learning Is Our Approach to Leading

 
Translating Our Theory of Action Into Four Practical Elements

 
The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

 
A Pause for Reflection

 
 
Chapter 3. System Leaders Working Alongside School Leaders
The Importance of System Leadership

 
Leadership With Attitude: From Collegiality to Co-Learning

 
Preparing Leaders to Lead Learning

 
Structures That Drive Learning

 
Applying Our Theory of Action

 
The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

 
A Pause for Reflection

 
 
Chapter 4. School Leaders Working Alongside Teacher-Leaders
Leadership for Student Achievement and Collaborative Learning

 
Five Dimensions of Leadership

 
Contextual Factors That Build Collaboration

 
Using Leadership Influence

 
Practical First Steps Enabling Collaborative Inquiry

 
The Strong Case for Accomplished Teacher-Leaders in Every School

 
Data That Matter

 
When Time Is an Issue, a System Leader or Principal Might . . .

 
Voices From the Field: A Case Study

 
Applying Our Theory of Action

 
The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

 
A Pause for Reflection

 
 
Chapter 5. Teachers Working Alongside Teachers
Unstructured and Structured Collaboration

 
Changing the “What” in Learning Conversations

 
Learning Protocols as Scaffolds to Successful Collaborative Inquiry

 
Applying Our Theory of Action

 
A Pause for Reflection

 
The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

 
 
Chapter 6. Teachers and Students Working Alongside Each Other
Teaching Is Evolving

 
What’s the Difference? Cooperative Learning, Collaborative Learning, and Co-Learning

 
Authentic Collaborative Learning Matters

 
Teachers as Stewards

 
Personalization and Differentiation Matters

 
Classroom Inquiry-Based Learning: A Timely Approach

 
Student-Led Learning Walks

 
Applying Our Theory of Action

 
A Pause for Reflection

 
Our Culminating Event

 
The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

 
 
Afterword by Michael Fullan
 
Appendices
Appendix A. Survey Questions

 
Appendix B. A Protocol to Establish Norms of Engagement

 
Appendix C. Inhibiting and Enabling Conditions for Collaboration

 
Appendix D. Sample Collaborative Discussion Protocol

 
Appendix E. Benefits and Challenges of Networked Learning Communities

 
Appendix F. Guiding Questions for Leaders in the Establishment of a School Leadership Team

 
Appendix G. A Professional Learning Protocol: Sharing Student Work as a Driver for Co-Learning for Three to Four Participants

 
Appendix H. A Protocol for the Process of Co-Learning With and Without Release Time

 
Appendix I. Practical Beginnings to Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning

 
Appendix J. Assessment Within Inquiry Processes

 
 
The Book Study
 
Glossary
 
References and Further Readings
 
Index

“Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence is the definitive source for your comprehensive step by step implementation of collaborative learning.  This book belongs on every educator’s desk.”

Mike Greenwood, District Teacher Leader,
Windsor Public Schools, CT

“Is your school ready to learn to meet student needs as a team? If so, Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence is the book to help your staff learn together in order to improve student learning.”

Renee Peoples, Teaching and Learning Coach
West Elementary, NC

“I think the particular strength of this book is that it addresses something that is quite difficult to do, but easy to talk about—that is, establishing a collaborative culture of inquiry in a school.  So many leaders talk about collaboration, but then lead by telling.  This book helps leaders who may not have had the best leadership models themselves “see” what it looks like to “co-labor” (a turn of the phrase that is particularly welcome and illustrative, in my opinion) in a school setting for the good of teachers and kids.”

Jo Beth Jimerson, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership
Texas Christian University

“This is more than just another book on school leadership or school improvement. Collaborative learning is essential for success, and educators working in any capacity can find information here about how their role contributes to the process. From system leaders to school leaders to teachers to students, this book clearly explains the necessity of everyone’s participation in collaborative learning processes. As the authors state, participation in collaboration “is a powerful way to deepen educator capacity, to increase the value of the professional capital in the school, and to harness the power of the collective.”

Melanie Mares Sainz, Instructional Coach
Lowndes Middle School, VA

"This exceptional book is a rich and practical resource for leaders who realize the power of working together to improve schools. In a system where collaborative practices are the norm, student achievement and well-being becomes a shared responsibility. Deeper learning is maximized for everyone."

Joanne Robinson, Director of Professional Learning, & Linda Massey, Associate Director of Professional Learning
Education Leadership Canada

"Recent advances in digitised technology tend to isolate learners but isolating teachers in their Professional Learning is dangerous. While collaborative inquiry may lead to deep and meaningful insights, this kind of work is easier to describe than practice. In this important book the authors examine what it actually means to ‘work together’ for a common purpose. They understand the complexity and analyse its components. It is essential reading for leaders and teachers committed to improvement in students’ learning through authentic research in the classroom. Full of practical advice backed up by years of successful experience – the ultimate collaborative resource."

Alan Boyle, Author, Researcher, Consultant
Leannta Education Associates, United Kingdom

"Finally, Beate Planche and Lyn Sharratt have delivered a bold definition, provocative insights, and a clear framework for Collaborative Learning. They compel us in Leading Collaborative Learning to recognize that collaboration is a focused learning while outlining outcomes of a quality collaborative process. Sharratt and Planche have created a vital challenge for improving systems, schools and classroom practice. This book is a must read for all who wish to make a difference for the future now."

Bill Hogarth, Director of Education (retired)
York Region District School Board, Ontario CA

"Sharratt and Planche understand that effective collaborative learning means co-laboring at all levels throughout the system. In this book, they help readers be better at co-laboring, be it at the school or systems level, and they offer extensive processes and resources to make collaborative learning be growth-producing for all involved."

Jennifer Abrams, Consultant
author of Having Hard Conversations and Hard Conversations Unpacked - the Whos, the Whens and The What Ifs

"Everyone knows that educators need to work better together—but the question of how to do so has rarely been addressed beyond the level of glittering generalities. In this breakthrough volume, Lyn Sharratt and Beate Planche provide busy professionals with precise action plans to build powerful and sustainable collaborative cultures in our schools. This is an indispensable contribution for all teachers, principals, and system-level leaders who are serious about uplifting learning for all students."

Dennis Shirley, Professor Education & Editor-in-Chief
Lynch School of Education, Boston College & The Journal of Educational Change

"Lyn Sharratt and Beate Planche have done us all a great favor by writing this book. This well-researched resource provides a useful vocabulary for talking about and understanding Collaborative Learning, describes an incredibly helpful set of tools so that anyone can use them to lead collaborative conversations, and clearly defines a theory of action to help us organize and ground our collaborative work."

From the Foreword by Jim Knight, President, Director
Impact Research Lab, Kansas Coaching Project at The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning

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