One of my all time favorite movies is “What About Bob?” In the movie, Bob Wiley is dealing with a number of personal and relational problems that often accompany life. Bob seeks the help of a psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marvin, who gives him a book titled Baby Steps: A Guide to Living Life One Step at a Time. I won’t spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it, but suffice it to say there is much hilarity in watching Bob figuratively (and literally at times) “baby step” through his issues.
As you “baby step” into a collaborative learning environment, you might feel some frustration. That is perfectly okay! In the article Three Steps to Supporting the Crusade for Better Student Collaboration, author Jennifer Pieratt offers the following advice for implementing collaborative learning in the classroom:
- Calibrate the terms and expectations for collaboration: Be open about why collaboration is important. Ask questions that make things clearer. Use video and analysis of students in action to better understand what is important.
- Plan with the end in mind: Think about what skills students should have at the end of the year and develop activities that build to that end. Create a rubric that can be used to guide the process.
- Imbed scaffolding: Support healthy conversations, active listening, positive interactions, and productive group work.
We are baby stepping into collaborative learning. We are taking small steps into something that may be both new and uncomfortable. We may fall down and cry a little from time to time. We are learning with each step and with each fall. Keep trying! You and your students will be glad you did!