Teaching profession is a continuous learning, which should be supported during the whole career path. Improving teachers’ competencies is a prerequisite for better learning opportunities for all students.
Collaborative Teacher Learning provides local and small communities with a deeper and more efficient implementation of their professional development. It is of great importance that such a local process is implemented in an incentive or supportive environment and therefore the existing system context of the given country should be taken into account when supporting collaborative learning processes at a local level.
The potential to advance collaborative teacher learning and for policy actors to support it exists across the school system and at all levels – school, local, regional and national. Collaborative Teacher Learning should be an integral part of the daily routine in an ideal school environment. Policy initiatives can support this through the followings:
- integrating the collaborative teacher learning culture in the initial teacher education programme and make students, novice teachers or newly qualified teachers familiar with it;
- including the principles and practices arising from the Guide for CTL and the facilitators’ Guidelines in any form of teacher education programmes;
- adopting the CTL approach into the CPD programme;
- providing multiple non-formal opportunities for teachers to acquire new skills and competences through collaborative learning methods and support their implementation in the whole school’s culture
Relevant strategies and practices play a significant role in supporting the growth of CTL. The defined principles, key determinants, and evaluation criteria suggested in the EFFeCT Guidelines should be taken into the consideration, in all of the following areas:
- key features of the education system
- learning environments
- cultural factors
Three most important areas of policy initiatives:
- conceptualising and developing pedagogical methods for collaborative learning in relation to the changing operational environment
- developing organisational structures, processes, and practices to enable collaborative learning in relation to the changing operational environment
- supporting individuals to develop themselves as collaborative learners and as leaders of collaborative learning
Collaborative learning in practice does not simply mean collective learning but deep and holistic learning as well. Changes and progress in the school culture and on a local, regional and national level will take more time. These kinds of changes largely depend on the context and the structure of education. In a centralised system, changes might be achieved first on the local and institutional level, while in a democratic and cooperative system the approach of CTL can be for example a method of developing new curriculum for schools.
In case of launching a policy initiative, the developers should be well-informed about the factors fostering or challenging learning environments and the features of teachers’ CPD in a given country. The EFFeCT partnership summarized the international experiences in different educational systems and context in the case studies. Being familiar with the synthesis of the case studies and theoretical background papers – referred to as EFFeCT papers, available in the Library – helps to avoid pitfalls, set targets and to plan the evaluation of results by increasing policy learning. A reader-friendly summary was also composed for a wider audience, available in four languages: