FEA conducted a survey of teacher-scale FEA members to learn about the implementation of Collaborative Learning Teams (CLTs) in Fairfax County Public Schools. Key findings include:
- The implementation of CLTs varies widely around the county.
- Nearly half of all respondents attend two or more required CLTs per week. The rate is higher in elementary (52%) and middle (62%) than in high schools (31%).
- Some elementary specials teachers, counselors and others have too little CLT time.
- 24% report that some required CLT meetings are held outside the 7 ½ hour contract day.
- 14% report that required CLT meetings occur during their “duty-free” lunch.
- Most CLTs are tightly managed by administrators: appointing leaders, setting agendas.
- CLT autonomy correlates with the sense that CLT time is well spent.
- 58% agree that CLTs help them do their jobs better, but only 49% agree that CLT time is well spent.
- Respondents who attend two or more required CLTs per week are much less likely to agree that CLT time is well spent.
Some common themes brought up in comments include:
- CLTs take too much time and cut into time for planning.
- Some CLTs work well.
- Too much time is spent preparing data for administration, and not enough on common planning.
- Some staff are required to meet with CLTs outside their own subjects, which is viewed as a waste of time.
- Some administrators take too much control over CLTs; respondents desire more autonomy.
- Some CLTs continue meeting when done with the meeting agenda in order to fill a mandated time requirement.
FEA believes that FCPS can improve the utility of CLTs by providing better training, guidance and Regulations in order to:
- Stop requiring staff members to regularly attend a CLT in any subject that they don’t teach.
- Limit the number of required CLT meetings to one meeting per week and allowing additional CLT meetings on a strictly voluntary basis.
- Increase CLT autonomy in selecting leadership and preparing agendas.
- Focus CLTs primarily on activities that directly impact student instruction.
- Eliminate required CLT meetings outside the contract day and during lunch.
The complete 31 page report includes more detailed analysis and a sampling of respondents’ comments. It is available here.
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