“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can achieved.”Mattie Stepanek
Each year, money is made or lost, deals are closed or walked away from, and championship trophies are raised or envied from the other sideline, based on teamwork. How well individuals work together in a group, greatly determines their success as an organization.
This is no different in the classroom.
The Big Game
Growing up in Colorado, I have always been, and always will be, a fan of the Denver Broncos. This was a very difficult burden to bear as a child.
Many years, I would watch John Elway lead the team to the Super Bowl, only to get crushed by their opponent. It was not until the team around Elway improved, that the Broncos were able to win back-to-back championships.
Two years ago my hopes were high as my hometown team took on the Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos had a record-setting offense and mainly relied on the right arm of Peyton Manning to take them to the top. Unfortunately, Manning and the rest of the offense could do absolutely nothing that day, and the Broncos were humiliated.
In Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos once again find themselves steps away from the top of the NFL mountain. This time they are the underdogs. This time they are a better team.
They are a well-rounded team. They are not a one-dimensional team.
Teamwork has got them to the Superbowl. If they are to win, teamwork will once again have to be the main ingredient, as it was in 1997 when they overcame tremendous odds to upset the Green Bay Packers and raise the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in team history.
Collaboration is the Key
In the classroom teamwork and collaboration are essential tools and helping students achieve their academic goals. This is one area I have tried to refine over my years as a classroom teacher.
Each year my goal is to create new and innovative ways for my students to collaborate with one another and to engage them in a variety of learning opportunities. Here are three quick reasons why collaboration make such an impact on students.
#1-Working with others
No matter what you do as an adult, you will have to work with others. Because interpersonal communication is a real world challenge, we must give our students opportunities to grow in this skill set.
Sharing ideas, voicing opinions, brainstorming solutions, working through challenges, and encouraging one another, are just a few benefits that come when you allow students to work together in small groups.
I group my students in a variety of ways. Sometimes I allow them to choose their groups. Other times I choose their groups for them. And sometimes I use a very simple method to choose random groups.
No matter the method, the chance for students to grow as individuals as they work together is tremendous. The conversations that I hear my students engage in on a daily basis are both encouraging and inspire me to increase these opportunities.
#2-Learning From Others
Another huge benefit of allowing students to work together, is the opportunity to learn from each other. This has been especially helpful to my English language learners and struggling readers.
For students who are below grade level readers, not being able to access the text can be extremely frustrating. If a child cannot read the content, they have very little chance of completing a comprehension or writing task successfully.
Collaborative grouping helps to alleviate this obstacle. By allowing struggling readers to work with proficient readers, it enables them to hear the content and engage in the learning process.
It is thrilling to to observe a child who generally struggles with comprehension tasks, participate in an enriching conversation with their peers after hearing a portion of text. More often than not, their ideas are spot on, and add much value to the discussion.
As the saying goes, “Success breeds success.” As struggling learners feel more success in these settings, it will begin to impact them in individual tasks, as well.
Although this list could go on and on, the third benefit I want to highlight, is that collaboration gives all students a chance to be leaders.
This year, I have read and watched several things about grit and perseverance. It is fascinating, and I plan to do an entire post on this subject in the future.
I have been trying to be intentional in creating situations in which my students have to practice these attributes. Collaborative group projects have been an excellent way to accomplish this goal.
By being mindful of how I group students, all my students have been looked upon as the leader of their group. It has taken some time, but I have seen even my shyest students grow in confidence.
Once again, as their confidence grows, so do their abilities and willingness to take more academic risks. This takes a culture of community, but with the proper training, the dividends are massive!
Collaboration Works with Big Kids, Also!
In the field of education, collaboration is essential. I am currently involved in blog link-up with several other educators. Each of us is posting a Super Teaching Tip for Super Sunday.
Time to Chime