Theses Doctoral

Finding Time for Teacher Collaboration: A Content and Legal Analysis of the Role of Collective Bargaining in Teacher Collaboration Time

Snyder, Jason

It is commonly observed that elementary and secondary teachers often work in isolation and that providing opportunities for teachers to work together helps improve student outcomes. But it can be difficult to find time for teacher collaboration, whether in professional learning communities, grade-level teams, or other collaborative groups. Given the extensive role of collective bargaining agreements in governing teachers’ hours and working conditions, this study explores the role of collective bargaining in creating time for teacher collaboration. Using legal and content analyses, the study examines scope-of-bargaining statutes in each state to determine the extent to which district and union leaders are required to bargain over teacher time. It also uses the content-analysis methodology to review how collective bargaining agreements from thirty-one of the nation’s largest school districts restrict or promote teacher time for collaboration.

The study concludes that collective bargaining plays a considerable role in teacher collaboration time. Not only do most states have statutes that require stakeholders to bargain to create opportunities for collaboration time, the resulting collective bargaining agreements directly and indirectly affect time for collaboration. These findings establish that in almost all states where collective bargaining is required, school officials and teachers cannot advance teacher collaboration without the assistance of collective bargaining. Moreover, success in creating collaboration time depends largely on how the collective bargaining agreements restrict or promote that time. In light of these findings, the study recommends that local leaders and state policymakers take steps to promote teacher collaboration through collective bargaining by (1) prioritizing and reducing teacher workload; (2) removing teacher duty-hour limits; (3) expanding noninstructional time, including through additional teacher-collaboration set-asides; and (4) involving school leadership in determining how noninstructional time is used.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Organization and Leadership
Thesis Advisors
Rebell, Michael A.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 27, 2020