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Collaboration

January 21, 2012

I believe collaboration is ageless.

I have 3 beautiful children.  My first 2 kids are only 17 months apart.  Having 2 toddlers and an infant can be a challenge but I love it.  One thing that has helped me as a teacher is witnessing what I call natural collaboration.  My toddlers love to collaborate.  It is awesome to see them problem solve together, build together and  create art or imaginary stories together.  They are not forced to do so.  They are not even asked to do so.  They want to.  They naturally feed off each other.  They watch each other, learn from each other and for the most part are happy together.

As an educator, I think collaboration fosters creativity, engagement, and happiness in the classroom.  In any given day, there are not many moments when my students are not collaborating.  Whether it is partner writing, creating assessments, developing textbooks, or simply reading I see and they see the value in working together.  Not only do they learn more from each other but time and time again I have seen the power of student collaboration.

In addition to teaching 3rd grade, I also teach at PVCC.  Last night was my first class of the spring semester. Literally within 5 minutes of being in the class, the students were working together on a project.  I introduced myself, and then introduced an activity.  They chose a partner and started to work on deciphering 10 riddles.  I gave them about 10 minutes to try to complete the assignment.  Besides seeing creativity and critical thought, I also witnessed laughter, happiness, and connections.  When they walked into the room they were quiet and uncomfortable.  15 minutes later, they were smiling, comfortable and ready to learn.  When I started teaching college courses 7 years ago, I was told that they would not want to communicate  or collaborate with each other.  That advice went in one ear and out the other.  Not only do college students enjoy collaborating, I truly believe they are yearning to do so.  My students enjoy coming to class.  I know because they attend class, and I know because they say so on the class evaluation every semester.

I truly believe collaboration is ageless.  It should be a focus in every classroom no matter age or level.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. andrew permalink
    January 22, 2012 1:17 pm

    I enjoyed reading this Michael. We are all social being no matter what age. I encouraged my tennis teams in the past to teach each other how to play. This form of collab helped immensely. Players had to think about what fundamentals they were or weren’t seeing being performed and make corrections.

    I don’t know where I heard it (prob twitter) but someone said, “if you work together to solve a problem its called collaborating. In school, if you work together to solve a problem its called cheating.”

    I wish I had an elementary teacher like you when I was in 3rd grade. We did have cooperative learning groups but that never worked because we weren’t allowed to cooperate on lessons or activities. It was a program that either was the newest fad at the time or just horribly executed by our teachers.

    • January 22, 2012 6:45 pm

      Thanks for reading. I wish I had PE teachers like you and Scott when I was in school. You guys are doing cool things. Schools should look to sports more as a guideline for success. That is besides the need for competition but the collaborative part of sports should be considered in the classroom.

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