Zeitschrift für Pädagogik vol:52 issue:2 pages:220-237
"Teacher collaboration" and "collegiality" are not only frequently used concepts in educational research and school practice, they have also been promoted as decisive factors contributing to school improvement and teacher development. The review of the research literature-presented in this article-, however, shows that those virtues and benefits are not as self-evident as one may think. It is argued that collaboration and collegiality can take different forms and contribute to different agendas, not all of which can be positively valued. Furthermore a more balanced view on collegiality versus autonomy is needed. Simplistic claims about the benefits of collaboration turn out to be as little warranted as negative judgments about teacher autonomy. Properly understanding and evaluating collaboration and collegiality can only be achieved by taking into account the organizational context of the school. Both a cultural perspective (focusing on the processes of sense-making, the shared values and norms) and a micropolitical perspective (explicitly addressing issues of power, interests and influence) are needed to disentangle and understand them. In the same vein, professional learning communities in schools -in which collaboration and collegiality are supposed to play a key role- ought to be conceived of not so much as structural arrangements, but rather as cultural and political environments aimed at allowing those forms of collaboration and collegiality to take place that really contribute to pupils' learning, teacher development and school.