The skills necessary for successful teamwork are not innate. They are learned behaviors. The students who enter our classrooms on a daily basis need direct instruction related to the skills of collaboration, and that instruction must be well planned.
Some may be struggling to design collaborative activities for the classroom. The good news is there exists a rich body of literature we can examine to inform our practices. In the article What Makes A Collaborative Classroom Work? author Anne Vilen shares the following three tips for collaboration in the classroom:
- Define boundaries – Directly teach students what it looks like to successfully work with others. Talk about the volume necessary for collaborative communication and address the need for respectful and purposeful discourse.
- Practice protocols – Articulate what students are to do during a collaborative session, how long they are to continue, who is expected to participate, and how to treat each other.
- Reflect and transfer – Ask students to think about their collaborative experience. Ask them what went well, what didn’t go well, and what they learned. Ask students about how they can use their new knowledge and skills in future situations.
As you prepare for next week, think about the activities that might readily lend themselves to student collaboration. Put together a plan for implementing such an engagement strategy. Be specific in all that you hope to see taking place. Implement your plan with your students. You and your students will be glad you did!