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2017-2018 Features

WE Expect Excellence: Collaboration Facilitators

Beginning this school year, the Beaverton School District is implementing a 90-minute Early Release to provide time for teacher collaboration. To support this work, teachers will have the help of Collaboration Facilitators.

At elementary schools, each grade level team has a Collaboration Facilitator.  Facilitators were nominated by team members to support their collective work and to ensure that the collaboration time is effective and efficient. 

The facilitator role can be broken down to three main functions: communicate, support and share out.  He or she is responsible for making sure everyone is clear about agreed upon agendas and resources needed for collaboration. In addition, the facilitator will act as a link between the team, the building principal and the Teaching & Learning (T&L) Department about their work and any needed support.

Each facilitator will support the team by gathering necessary resources, reaching out for help, organizing the collective work and being knowledgeable about Week3 professional development opportunities.

When teams design units, assessments, and resources that exemplify best practices that could benefit other teachers and schools, the facilitator can share them with the T&L Department who will collect, organize and post them online for all to access. "We are such a large district, and now we are finally working together and teaching in similar ways, using best practices," says Jen Burkart, Elementary Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA). "Many of us are moving in the same direction and we hope to begin working together across the District working smarter, not harder."

Jennie Hausman, 2nd-grade teacher and Collaboration Facilitator at Fir Grove Elementary School, says, "I believe student success depends on how effective we are as teachers. The collaboration time allows us to be more consistent in our expectations for students and strengthen our teaching practices as we share our expertise with each other. I've been teaching for 24 years and I have a lot to share, but I learn new things from my teammates every day. I really believe in this work and this role helps me support this professional development opportunity. The Collaboration Facilitator's role is just to help their team be ready each week so we can improve our effectiveness and keep student success at the forefront."

At the secondary level, Collaboration Facilitators have the same role but are not necessarily tied to a specific grade level or content area team.  The facilitators assist teachers and support staff in finding the best fit for a collaboration team, facilitate a team or a professional development course if necessary, and act as a liaison between the building principal and the T&L Department to share the work of the collaboration teams.

Collaboration Facilitators participated in professional development to learn about team dynamics, the expectations of the role, what supports and resources are available and how to share out the good work their teams are doing.

"Research is clear that collective efficacy makes a big difference in student achievement.  Collective efficacy means that groups of teachers truly believe that if they put their minds and hearts together, they can make a positive impact on student achievement," says Burkart. "That is what we believe here in the Beaverton School District and that is why we are supporting teachers in knowing that they can do this important work and to make sure that it is fully supported system-wide."