Really, it isn't. So why do so many of us think that we are collaborating when we are engaged in nothing more than discussion of how to best accomplish some piece of "administrivia?"
I think that the main reason is our lack of understanding how to collaborate. If communicating and collaborating are essential 21st Century literacies, then our students are in trouble. Teaching can be one of the least collaborative endeavors ever. Teachers enter their classrooms everyday with the mindset that they stand alone in a sea of children (whatever their age).
It doesn't have to be that way. We can learn to collaborate, but we'll have to be teaching ourselves how. I don't think that many administrators know much more about working and teaming than anyone else in education.
Having made that optimistic statement, I need to admit that I'm not sure how I'm going to teach myself more collaborative skills, but I'm going to start by doing some reading and talking, my favorite methodologies for learning something new. Peter Gow has a great post on the lost potential of department heads and he's onto something there. I think the same could be said for middle school teaming structures.
Kim Cofino writes a lot about the work she's doing, and while I don't think she specifically talks about the structure of collaboration, its there. So, I'm going to catch up on what she's written as part of my research. It's as good a start as any, and better than many!