The social dimensions of teacher collegiality

Year: 2001

Author: Jarzabkowski, Lucy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

As aspect of teachers’ work lives rarely given consideration within the larger scheme of educational research is that of social interaction with colleagues. While research focuses strongly on linking teacher collaboration to student learning outcomes, what is often neglected are the social benefits of teacher collegiality for teachers themselves. This presentation provides empirical data drawn from a completed PhD case study on teachers’ social interaction in a primary school and reveals teachers’ perceptions of the importance of such interaction. It provides an argument for incorporating a social dimension into existing concepts of teacher collegiality and posits that social interaction among colleagues may have two-fold benefits. First, it is suggested that social interaction may promote better working relationships, which in the longer term may improve the quality of teaching and learning. Second, positive social interaction may improve the emotional health of the staff community, thus reducing emotional stress and burnout. What may appear on the surface to be an immaterial part of a teacher’s workplace experience in terms of educational outcomes should now be acknowledged as promoting significant individual and organisational benefits.