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Leading Collaborative Learning

Leading Collaborative Learning
Empowering Excellence

First Edition

Foreword by Jim Knight, Introduction by John Hattie, and Afterword by Michael Fullan

March 2016 | 320 pages | Corwin

Leadership, collaborative learning, and student achievement – discover what works!

Today’s improving school systems require educators who intentionally collaborate and co-learn in service of students to get expected results. This resource-rich book from experts Sharratt and Planche is a straightforward, strategic path to achieving sustainable communities of deep learners. Research-proven inquiry techniques, vignettes, case studies and practical action-oriented protocols help you build strong learning relationships for high-impact student achievement.

System leaders, principals and teachers learn to: 

  • Integrate diverse views and perspectives
  • Build trust and hear every voice
  • Apply a replicable inquiry framework to leverage key resources and processes
  • Build students’ cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills 
  • Use “Assessment-in-Action” to improve, monitor and sustain student and staff progress 
  • Build a collaborative culture through learning together

Use this guide to transform your school from a place of ‘good intentions’ to a center of intentional practice today!

“Is your school ready to learn to meet student needs as a team? If so, Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence is the book to help your staff learn together in order to improve student learning.”
Renee Peoples, Teaching and Learning Coach
West Elementary, NC

“This is more than just another book on school leadership or school improvement. Collaborative learning is essential for success, and educators working in any capacity can find information here about how their role contributes to the process. From system leaders to school leaders to teachers to students, this book clearly explains the necessity of everyone’s participation in collaborative learning processes. As the authors state, participation in collaboration “is a powerful way to deepen educator capacity, to increase the value of the professional capital in the school, and to harness the power of the collective.”
Melanie Mares Sainz, Instructional Coach
Lowndes Middle School, VA

List of Figures and Tables
Foreword by Jim Knight
Introduction by John Hattie
About the Authors
Chapter 1. Leading Collaborative Learning
Moving to Excellence

Guided by Research

Definitions Set the Stage

How We Lead Matters

Our Research

Broad Themes Emerging From the Research

Collaborative Learning Cultivates Leadership

The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

A Pause for Reflection

Chapter 2. From Theory Into Action
Conditions for System Success

Constructivism Frames Our Approach to Inquiry

Collaborative Learning Is Our Approach to Leading

Translating Our Theory of Action Into Four Practical Elements

The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

A Pause for Reflection

Chapter 3. System Leaders Working Alongside School Leaders
The Importance of System Leadership

Leadership With Attitude: From Collegiality to Co-Learning

Preparing Leaders to Lead Learning

Structures That Drive Learning

Applying Our Theory of Action

The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

A Pause for Reflection

Chapter 4. School Leaders Working Alongside Teacher-Leaders
Leadership for Student Achievement and Collaborative Learning

Five Dimensions of Leadership

Contextual Factors That Build Collaboration

Using Leadership Influence

Practical First Steps Enabling Collaborative Inquiry

The Strong Case for Accomplished Teacher-Leaders in Every School

Data That Matter

When Time Is an Issue, a System Leader or Principal Might . . .

Voices From the Field: A Case Study

Applying Our Theory of Action

The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

A Pause for Reflection

Chapter 5. Teachers Working Alongside Teachers
Unstructured and Structured Collaboration

Changing the “What” in Learning Conversations

Learning Protocols as Scaffolds to Successful Collaborative Inquiry

Applying Our Theory of Action

A Pause for Reflection

The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

Chapter 6. Teachers and Students Working Alongside Each Other
Teaching Is Evolving

What’s the Difference? Cooperative Learning, Collaborative Learning, and Co-Learning

Authentic Collaborative Learning Matters

Teachers as Stewards

Personalization and Differentiation Matters

Classroom Inquiry-Based Learning: A Timely Approach

Student-Led Learning Walks

Applying Our Theory of Action

A Pause for Reflection

Our Culminating Event

The Impact of Collaboration on Student Learning

Afterword by Michael Fullan
Appendix A. Survey Questions

Appendix B. A Protocol to Establish Norms of Engagement

Appendix C. Inhibiting and Enabling Conditions for Collaboration

Appendix D. Sample Collaborative Discussion Protocol

Appendix E. Benefits and Challenges of Networked Learning Communities

Appendix F. Guiding Questions for Leaders in the Establishment of a School Leadership Team

Appendix G. A Professional Learning Protocol: Sharing Student Work as a Driver for Co-Learning for Three to Four Participants

Appendix H. A Protocol for the Process of Co-Learning With and Without Release Time

Appendix I. Practical Beginnings to Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning

Appendix J. Assessment Within Inquiry Processes

The Book Study
References and Further Readings

"It is clear that Sharratt and Planche have themselves done everything that is in the book. What is even clearer is that they have helped scores of others engage in these actions suited to their own situations. This is a book that has crystal clear concepts, co-learning galore, guided by research, grounded in practice—all devoted to deep learning by students and adults alike."

From the Afterword by Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus
University of Toronto, Canada

“The credibility of Sharratt and Planche, two of Ontario’s most respected curriculum leaders comes from the fact that they do not only write about what works, they have done the work! Their call for deeper learning as a result of collaboration or co-labouring takes this idea to a new level of much-needed inquiry. Their discussion of the research-informed elements for authentic learning and the related competencies further validate their assertions. I appreciate the holistic nature of their work with the focus on cognitive, interpersonal and intra-personal skills. The deconstruction of ideas related to innovation, creativity and growth mindsets and the identification of the specific behaviours of classroom teachers that build strong learning cultures will contribute significantly to our knowledge base.”

Avis Glaze, Former Chief Student Achievement Officer of Ontario, and Founding CEO
Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat

"If we are to move forward with making learning the central focus of schools, then we need to understand how to get past adult issues and politics, and concentrate more on authentic collaboration, which when done well can improve learning among adults and students. In Leading Collaborative Learning, Lyn Sharratt and Beate Planche show us how to do that."

Peter DeWitt, Ed.D. Author & Consultant
Finding Common Ground blog (Education Week)

"This valuable resource explains clearly and persuasively why collaborative learning really is a good idea. It challenges you to reflect deeply on your current collaborations, and offers helpful definitions, examples and tools, whatever your role in the system. A great read!"

Dr. Louise Stoll, Professor of Professional Learning
University College London Institute of Education

"Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence is a timely, important and compelling call to collective action and professional agency. It reminds us that teachers working together on real issues of learning and teaching can be a powerful catalyst for change. This is a must read book for anyone interested in securing and sustaining authentic school and system improvement."

Alma Harris, Director, Institute of Educational Leadership
University of Malaya, Malaysia

"Good collaboration, collaborative skills and behaviors increasingly are critical to our success in teaching and learning, and in the organization of education. Leading Collaborative Learning provides analysis and roadmaps for understanding, building and developing collaboration in the work of schools and setting the stage for deeper learning. It builds on evidence from the field and points to actions we can take to strengthen collaboration. It is an important contribution, a good read with intriguing ideas for us each to reflect upon." 

Gavin Dykes, Chair and Co-Founder
Education Fast Forward

"Lyn Sharratt and Beate Planche not only highlight the power of collaboration they go further to identify the key narratives to which this collective needs to attend.  Their notion of collaborative learning involves systems and school leaders building collective capacity, energizing knowledge together, and moving schools from being places of “plans and good intentions” to centers of “purposeful practice” on the part of all teachers who then empower students to do the same.  Who does not want to part of such a school?"

From the Introduction by John Hattie, Laureate Professor, Director
Melbourne Education Research Institute

"The major strength of the text addresses two points: the opportunity to really connect the need to engage in collaborative processes as a way to improve schools, and the way in which that same learning assists teachers in developing similar processes in their classrooms with students."

Chad Ransom, Director of Second Language Services
Teton County School District
Key features

We recommend using a simple inquiry cycle as a learning frame that is replicable at the district, school, or classroom levels and we demonstrate that an inquiry stance requires collaborative, non-judgmental co-analysis and co-learning opportunities. We further outline the actions that leaders must consider to mobilize learning and sustain progress. The research that supports this book is developed from the work of Darling-Hammond, Knight, and especially John Hattie.


Each school as a strong community of learners evolves by building trust, sharing responsibility, and establishing high expectations for all learners – professionals and students alike. This is not unlike Hattie’s (2012, p. 6) discussion of 8 Mind Frames. The last one is especially critical here in relation to our work: “I am passionate about and promote the language of learning.”

This is not a theoretical piece but is very practical, offers plenty of examples and a model of action.  Show
Chapter Two where the authors discuss their theory of action with its four elements which are: Assessing to Plan effectively, Planning to Act purposely, Acting to Make Sense thoughtfully and Making Sense of our work continually to Refine our practice and to Learn collaboratively.

The interviews will also yield rich examples for use and analysis.

Foreword by Jim Knight

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ISBN: 9781483368979

For large school/district orders, volume discounts, availability and shipping times contact customer service at 800-233-9936

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