Lori Pender
EDU 713
October 13, 2010

Davison, C. (2006). Collaboration between ESL and content teachers: How do we know when we are doing it right? The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9 (4), 454-475.
Davison, a Faculty of Education member and researcher at the University of Hong Kong, argues that partnership as a model of ESL delivery is still relatively new and needs further evaluation if this type of collaboration is to be effective. To go beyond the focus of methods and techniques in the classroom and to develop more collaborative relationships between ESL and content teachers, the following questions were asked:
(1) How can we judge if and when collaborative teaching is effective?
(2) What are the stages of collaboration and the different levels of its effectiveness?
(3) How does the process of co-planning and co-teaching support the evolution of the partnership?
This paper draws on questionnaire and interview data collected as part of a school-based professional development initiative in an English-medium school in Asia that focused on developing more collaborative relationships between ESL and content teachers in a large culturally and linguistically diverse elementary school.
The Project
This study was part of a larger research project investigating the integration of English language and content-area teaching in English-medium international schools in Asia. The data collected was from an international school in Taiwan where students represented more than 50 different nationalities. Teachers were from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or other international schools in the region. Davison begins with an analysis of some of the assumptions in current concepts about effective collaboration between ESL and content-area teachers. He then uses critical discourse analysis of teacher talk to describe the stages of collaboration and levels of development in an emerging framework. He explores the implications for evaluating approaches to partnership and for setting goals for professional development and institutional change.
The methodological approach was primarily qualitative and interpretive. The data discussed were collected through a short open-ended questionnaire and follow-up semi-structured interviews and focused observations at the end of the year of collaboration. It is important to note that the administration sponsored professional development days that explored collaboration issues. The study involved 12 classroom teachers from grades 1,2, and 5 working in partnership with 5 ESL teachers. The data was organized into preliminary categories suggested by the themes evident during the course of data collection. Davison moved back and forth between the data and related research while trying different coding systems. He looked at the social, cultural, and disciplinary context in which the interactions occurred and developed an analytical framework that linked the analysis of the context to that of the texts.
The comparison of the discourse of less and more successful partnerships (as evaluated by the teachers themselves in their initial questionnaire) suggested the an indicator of a more successful collaboration was the way in which teachers adopted each others’ language, teachers having more to say about specific individuals, and a higher level of behavioral, mental, and verbal processes. More intense discussions and collaborators speaking in first and second person established the partnership as more interactive. Members of successful partnerships had more to say and were happy to write it down.
A framework to describe the collaboration between ESL and classroom teachers at the elementary level was developed. It consists of five stages of increasing effectiveness in teacher collaboration including passive resistance, compliance, accommodation, convergence, and creative co-construction, where co-teaching is highly creative, intuitive and fluid. It was not clear from the data whether a partnership had to move through each stage. Four distinct areas of teacher concern were indicators at each stage, grouped as attitude, effort, achievements, and expectations of support. At the most successful level of development, teachers have a positive attitude and feel they benefit greatly from the experience. Teachers commit a great deal of time and effort by negotiating responsibilities and achievements are seen as impacting across the curriculum. Referents use first person and participate in teacher-based professional development and extensive reading. Only a few partnerships were perceived as really successful. A detailed analysis of teacher background, qualification, and experience did not reveal any strong correlations between personal factors, situational factors, and a successful partnership. Closer analysis of longitudinal data may reveal certain teacher attributes that predispose partners to greater success.

Discussion, Implications, and Recommendations
Davison states that more research is needed to evaluate whether this framework is valid for different levels and different schools. He suggests that more discourse-based studies of collaborative classrooms and team planning conversations should be considered. Most importantly, he says there is a need to research the effect of different forms of partnership on students through large-scale longitudinal studies of English language and subject content development. Among the conclusions from this study is the idea that partnership between ESL and content teachers is not easy. Teachers who have a positive attitude, give a great deal of time and effort, see the impact of achievement across the curriculum, and participate in professional development generally feel their partnerships are successful. One of the implications for professional development is that collaborating teachers may benefit from more action-based teacher research with opportunities for critical reflection and discussions about the nature of learning and teaching.
My Thoughts
I agree with Davison that more research is needed to validate his framework for the stages of collaboration. I believe his work has opened a door for teachers to explore the collaborative relationship at different levels, hopefully moving toward the creative co-construction level with each experience. I believe the teachers’ views of their partnerships are critical. Perhaps most importantly, the effect of different forms of partnership on students’ English language and subject content development must be considered. The purpose of collaboration, co-planning and co-teaching, is for teachers to use their knowledge to differentiate and meet the needs of students. One idea that stood out to me in the paper was that an ideal, collaborative relationship between an ESL and content area teacher requires the integration of content-based ESL teaching and ESL-conscious content teaching. Teaching language through content and teaching content using appropriate language is a delicate balance that teachers can achieve.
Using the framework that emerged from the research, I can look at where I fit in my collaborative relationships with classroom teachers. I can use this information as a springboard for conversation with the teachers I co-teach with this year. This report can benefit ESL and content teachers who are currently co-teaching or who are considering co-teaching in the future. Together, teachers can make a difference in the classroom.
Connections to Course Material
When reading this research article, the idea of “pools of shared meaning” came to mind. Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler (2002) state that the unique combination of thoughts, feelings, opinions, theories, and experiences make up our personal pool of meaning when we enter a conversation or relationship. When we enter crucial conversations with people, we often do not share the same pool of meaning. To be effective in our discussions and working relationships, we must have pools of shared meaning. In this research article, one indication of a more successful collaboration occurred when teachers adopted each other’s language, including technical terminology and content specific phrases. This points to pools of shared meaning for success. Another indication of success was more intense discussions of the partnership and its achievements including the use of first person such as “we” and “our”. This indicates a more interactive, equal relationship and creates pools of shared meaning. Pools of shared meaning are essential for ESL teachers and content teachers to achieve success with students.