Collaboration tips

I’ve just started sketching out my lit review, and I’ve realised how many great tips there are for structuring collaboration. As in, real practical lessons we can all lift and utalise to improve the way we support the development of individual collaborative skills.

Here are a couple:

1) Student Professional Learning

Spend one – two hours at the start of every project with PL. Ideally, I’d recommend this to be spaced away from the Entry Event, either before it or a few periods after so you don’t lose the momentum generated. The PL should be centered around clarifying expectations, identifying the interpersonal and team skills required for the project and how these will be assessed. Teams should also be given time to discuss their own expectations, assign roles and levels of responsibility – this could be achieved via a team contract.

2) Dress Rehearse Conflict

I know this goes against what Brene Browne say, but in this context it works. Teams need to understand Tuckmans Storming, Forming, Norming, Preforming model and accept that conflict will occur. They also need to know how to handle it when it does. One cool activity was to identify your team personality, and then reflect on how you would like to be approached if your behaviour was negatively affecting the team. Sugar coated? Direct? In person, or via a note? These reflections are shared with the team and discussed, meaning if this conversation does take place we’ve considered the best approach. Another approach was to watch how other teams deal with conflict – potentially via a video case study (a short one).

3) Sitting together matters!

A study into teams revealed that sitting together did improve their success, as did weekly team meetings. Teachers can support by structuring these, and showing them how to use agendas/action lists. I also see these meeting minutes being useful benchmarks to assess the teams ability to communicate and delegate… hmmm

4) Accountability

Individual and team accountability matters. Honestly, I’ve never really known how to effectively deal with social loafers. And it’s the number one issue in collaborative work, therefore we kinda have to know how to deal with it. Essentially, if we are placing students in a situation where their learning is dependent on the actions of another human, then it’s our responsibility to structure this fairly. Students who fail to live up to their responsibilities to the team need to be penalised. In my mind, which thankfully matches the readings, this is achieved by removing the team member from the social learning environment and scaffolding to help them get back there one day.