Collaboration in school can take many forms:
- Talking partners -This is where children are actively engaged in a lesson and can clearly be observed as such- If they are not required to talk about what the teacher is saying maybe they are not thinking about what is being asked. Talk partners allows for time to think about a question and properly formulate an answer before speaking. For me one of the most important aspects is that children are given confidence by discussing an idea with a peer first, this is a vital step for the nervous or more anxious child, and it helps them find their voice.
- Cross class/year group. The process of teaching a subject is one of the most powerful learning processes and as such we encourage our students to extend their learning by teaching others. This week I saw year 5 children teaching year 4 the often-tricky topic of fractions. They were able to explain the calculation strategies in way that made total sense to the year 4s, as the ‘teachers’ had experienced first hand the difficulties in understanding. The added benefit to the year 5s was the deepening of their own understanding and a real example of the importance of mastering a concept.
- Global connections – Being part of a global organisation such as the Nord Anglia family, we are fortunate to be connected with nearly 70 schools globally, this has the potential to be very powerful. For students who live and study a different part of the world, speak a second language, the experience of collaboration can lead to a better appreciation of the complexity, challenges, and ambiguity, as well as the opportunities of life in the 21st century. - critical tools for individuals preparing for life in our rapidly changing world.
- Teachers – Collaboration amongst teachers themselves is also extremely valuable especially in an international school. We have teachers with a huge diversity of skills and experience. Some of the best professional development is learning from each other and as such last week we launched a collaborative project called ‘Lesson Study’. This project will capitalize on this diversity of skills and experience and allow our teachers to analyze their own pedagogical approaches with the emphasis on learning rather than teaching.
Collaboration not only develops expertise, but also builds community. Think of it like making a pizza – we can all bring the necessary elements of flour, water, cheese, tomatoes, and vegetables; separately they are all good but together they can be magnificent!
In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.