Collaboration is a fundamental part of the learning experience and, here at the IB, we talk about it a lot. Whether it’s teacher collaboration, student collaboration, teacher-student collaboration, IB collaboration with our community of educators, parents, and other organizations and experts, the list goes on.
We like to define collaboration as a social process of knowledge building that requires students to work as an interdependent team towards a clear objective resulting in a well-defined final product, consensus, or decision. Collaborative tasks and groups are structured so that teams of students must rely on one another to share resources (e.g., materials, knowledge, experience, insight, and skills), utilize metacognitive processes, and communicate with each other in order to complete a task and/or arrive at a consensus best achieved with equitable participation of all members.
Are you part of a team or about to build one? Here are four simple tips to help you:
1. Before you get started, take some time to make an essential agreement to agree on the goal of the project, the roles each person will fill, clarify expectations about how to communicate with each other, and make a plan about how to deal with disagreement if (when) they arise.
2. Make sure everyone has had a chance to contribute their ideas before making a decision.
3. Set interim deadlines; use each deadline as a chance to check on progress and adjust the timelines if necessary.
4. Make sure you celebrate successes (even if they’re small successes) so challenges/failures don’t get too discouraging.
Got a tip for effective team building? We’d love to hear your ideas, please post them in the comments section below.
Here’s a short selection of resources we’ve found for teachers and students:
- Team-building ideas for teachers to use with students through 6 cooperative classroom games.
- Heard about visible thinking?
- Here, Edutopia looks at how teacher teams transform schools.
- From Forbes, six ways successful teams are built to last.
- From Innovate Team Building, 10 team building tips take your team from great to extraordinary focuses on teams within an office environment but contains useful transferable ideas for students.