Investigating the Relationships Between Teacher Identity Norms and Collaboration
Weston, Deborah PA
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The purpose of this study was to investigate how teacher identity norms relate to teacher collaboration among the practices of elementary teachers in Ontario. Using quantitative research methods, the data indicated two clusters of teacher identity norms. The norm cluster of innovation, interdependence, and cooperation showed positive correlations with collaboration and the norm cluster of conservatism, individualism, and competition showed negative correlations with collaboration. The two clusters of norms also correlated with each other. The data showed that teachers highly valued collaboration as part of their teaching practice but did not always experience it in their school setting. The analysis suggested that if schools reinforce norms of innovation, interdependence, and cooperation, collaboration will be nurtured. Further, the data showed that if norms of conservatism, individualism, and competition are continued in school cultures, then collaboration will not be sustained. As a broad educational reform agenda, teacher collaboration is used (a) to support school cultures, (b) to change teaching practices, and (c) to implement policy-based initiatives. This research is expected to benefit teachers in its capacity to inform policy makers concerning the highly complex nature of teacher collaboration and some of the factors that impact it. With an understanding of the relationships between teacher identity norms and collaboration, it may be possible for policy makers to provide appropriate support structures that reinforce collaboration in teachers' practices as well as predict potential levels of collaboration within school cultures.