Working collaboratively maximises the efforts of a number of people towards a shared goal or task. It is more than simply sharing the work of a task, or co-operating to get something done, where the way in which one person fulfils their share might not impact at all on the way in which another person completes theirs.
A team of cleaners can clean an office block by deciding who will do what, and then each cleaner can go ahead with their section without interacting with the rest of the team. They may need to co-operate to agree on shared use of equipment, but each person’s ideas and approaches need not necessarily be taken into account by the others in order to get the job done.
Authentic collaboration requires that all participants share the same goal and want the same outcome, and commit to the idea that through working with others, everyone can benefit from a synergy of ideas and strengths and that the goal may even be developed through this synergy.
Most schools will have structures in place that expect that their teachers will work collaboratively to:
- Develop programs of work
- Develop shared resources
- Make decisions about appropriate assessment regimes or tasks for a particular year level or unit of work
- Plan interventions for a student with particular learning needs or behavioural challenges
- Contribute to school planning
- Organise and run significant school events such as the end of year concert or Sports Day
It can be a difficult thing to work well collaboratively unless you have developed or are at least aware of the skills and behaviours that you need. “Being collaborative” is not simply something that comes naturally to everyone. What skills do you think might have helped the collaborative process in this scenario?