The Need for Cross-Department Communication Among Teachers


Effective communication is an integral aspect of any organization, and the same holds true for educational institutions. The term cross-department communication refers to the exchange of ideas, information and resources between teachers from different departments within a school. 

In regards to cross-department communication, Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher, Blair Liquigan-Pador said, “When we’re talking about student scheduling, there’s not a lot of communication across departments. There’s actually none.”

In a school, teachers work tirelessly to provide students with the best possible learning experience. Cross-department communication will bestow additional support to students as they will be learning the same concepts and skills across various subjects, which reinforces their understanding and allows them to engage with the material in different ways.  However, when students are confronted with a disconnected curriculum, they are denied that ideal learning experience. 

American Literature Honors teacher Zachary Jacobs often suggested implementing teams for teachers of the respective grades to collaborate with each other. However, this becomes an issue when many students take courses that stray from the traditional path, making it difficult to truly create a system that takes all of these outliers into account. 

In the matter of explicit benefits, cross-department communication ensures consistency in the curriculum. When teachers from separate departments communicate, they can ensure that their lessons align with one another. 

Previously, CHS offered a course known as World Core for high school sophomores. THe course involved a team of teachers who co-taught an English-history class and shared the same group of students. This led to many dual assessments – meaning a project or paper that counted for a grade in both classes. 

“Students liked it because we made connections across the classes. It was also half the work as you completed one assignment for both classes as opposed to two,” Jacobs said. Unfortunately, the class was dropped during the pandemic as it was challenging as well as unmanageable to compile large teams to organize and plan the curriculum. There are currently no plans to bring the class back – however, Jacobs touches upon a class offered at other neighboring high schools called American Studies. The course essentially follows the same concept but for juniors instead of sophomores.

Additionally, cross-department communication fosters collaboration among teachers. When teachers work together, they can share their knowledge and expertise and help one another develop distinctive teaching strategies. This can lead to more effective teaching and learning, a benefit to both the teachers as well as their students. 

In theory, this sounds manageable, but it proves more difficult in practice. Said Pador,  “We’ve tried to come up with a conflict calendar in the past, and that just didn’t necessarily work out due to curriculum changes and instruction needing to be modified. So, it was hard to maintain.” Teachers are constantly inundated with information and have their hands full with weekly meetings within their respective departments; therefore, integrating the curriculums of other subjects into their own is far simpler in theory than practice. 

Currently, as Pador mentioned, there is little-to-none communication within departments. Instead, Pador often implements polls and conducts check-ins to gauge student stress levels during certain periods. Furthermore, when students approach her expressing concerns about their overwhelming workload on one day, Pador offers the opportunity to either take it earlier or later than the set date in order to accommodate her students’ needs.

Lastly, cross-department communication can assist teachers in identifying students who may be struggling academically or socially. Before the FUHSD district made the switch to Schoology, all operations were conducted on a platform called School Loop. In the previous learning management system, an effective method of collaboration was conducted through the “intervention” function. 

“I typically would use the button if I were noticing something either academically, but more often, I’d use it for social, emotional things,” Jacobs said. “If somebody looked really tired or upset, I would click the button that sends a blast out to all their current teachers with a message like, ‘Hey, I noticed this, what have you seen?’ And then it gives us a chance to check in with observations.”

When teachers from different departments communicate with each other, they can communicate information about the students who struggle in their classes. Jacobs believes inserting this function into Schoology will greatly streamline the system and improve communication among the teachers of a certain student. This can help teachers recognize patterns of behavior or academic performance that may be indicative of a larger issue and can allow them to intervene early to provide support to the affected student.

Cross-department communication among teachers is essential for educational institutions. It promotes consistency in the curriculum, collaboration among teachers, early identification of struggling students and helps teachers stay up-to-date on developments in their field. Pador believes implementing a monthly discussion revolving around this subject could potentially benefit students all over campus. Simply having a conversation about large tests and project deadlines will help teachers account for workloads and make scheduling assignments more convenient for their students.