What do we need to pay attention to in designing collaborative learning for students? (Thoughts from Beate Planche and Lyn Sharratt)
Leaders create the conditions for effective learning. In the classroom, the teacher is the leader supported by school leadership. Teachers effectively become the stewards of collaborative learning once the right conditions are in place. They play a vital role as instructors, guides and facilitators of collaborative learning as well as modelling a co-learning stance. Project-based learning or other inquiry processes are increasingly used as the frame for collaborative learning. What follows are many of the vital steps to consider in the inquiry journey.
Attend to the learning culture – Collaboration needs an underpinning of safety, trust and strong relationships. We also believe strongly in what we call “Parameter No. 1” (Sharratt & Fullan, 2009, 2012) which reinforces that all students can learn given the right time and support. Such a positive belief also students to build a growth mindset. Teachers as co-learners model a curious nature and the assurance it is important to risk-take in learning. It is also important to avoid difficulties by being proactive. Developing working norms for collaborative learning is an important part of the preparation as well as plans to support students who have focusing, learning or behavioral challenges.
Attend to learning processes – Teachers need to be skilled in both understanding collaborative learning processes and in assessing the impact of their teaching on student learning. Attending to learning processes means that teachers have considered the scaffolds and supports students will need to be successful. The need for personalization and differentiation are realities to be integrated. Teachers who understand the importance of creating deeper learning conditions prepare students to work together so that they can:
For further information on collaborative learning for students and staff, consider –
“Leading Collaborative Learning: Empowering Excellence” by Lyn Sharratt & Beate Planche
(Corwin Press, 2016).
Blog for Larry Ferlazzo by Beate Planche and Lyn Sharratt, Corwin Authors.
My area of sustained interest is understanding the complexities of collaboration and their impact on learning in the classroom and in the workplace. The growing interest in pedagogies which promote an inquiry stance or more constructivist engagement also really resonates for me.