Policy Recommendation 5:
School and district leaders should ensure that collaborative activities are designed to enhance the instructional practice of all participants, which also will serve as a mechanism for creating cross-generational understanding and trust.
The Gen Y teacher’s desire for feedback is reflective of a larger need expressed by this group of young educators to collaborate, working with their peers toward a common goal or mission. Focus group participants in this study reacted favorably to a hypothetical school setting that involved teachers working in “cohort groups,” making comments such as, “I think the thing that really turned me off about [hypothetical school A] more than something that turned me on about [hypothetical school B] was the fact that it said that teachers do not collaborate. I think that the most important part of my day is the time that I have to collaborate with my fellow teachers, and how much I can learn from them and copy things that work well for them.” In the survey data, this finding is corroborated for teachers of all generations; two thirds of teachers in each of the age brackets would, if given the choice, move to a school where collaboration is highly valued.
For local policymakers, the most salient implications of this report involve school scheduling—creating common planning time, either by grade level, student cohorts, or content area. In the Lynwood Unified School District in Southern California, for example, district officials have used Teacher Incentive Funds to launch the Quest for Success Program.9 Although the main goal of the program is to incentivize changes in instructional practice that result in higher student performance, Quest for Success also is designed to foster collaboration and collegiality by providing bonuses to all teachers at a particular grade level when students within that grade meet important benchmarks.