We sat down at a table in the science classroom at 2:30, just 10 minutes after the bell rang at the end of the school day. We were ready to go: three teachers looking at student work. Oh wait, there’s a student at the door who needs an assignment—one of us went to help him, the rest continued on. What were we up to? We were trying to collaborate, and we only had twenty minutes. One of our members had volunteered to facilitate, and we even had an informal agenda: 5 minutes—introduce the lesson and provide background. 10 minutes—follow a simplified high-medium-low protocol for finding characteristics of the student work. 5 minutes—debrief.
Partway through the high-medium-low protocol, a recently graduated student appeared at the door with a big grin, coming back to our high school to say hello. We were happy to see him (he was a very jolly student)—we wished him well and sent him on to visit the math teacher. Then we continued looking at the student work! 2:50 rolled around—we got up and left the room. None of us usually leave the school at 2:50, the end of the contracted day, but on that day, I had another appointment, and needed to go, meaning that our collaboration time truly was limited to twenty minutes. Twenty minutes is the length of time collaboration would have to be if it were to fit within the normal school day, with no early release, late start, or other modified schedule.