Working collaboratively maximises the efforts of several people towards a shared goal or task. It is more than simply sharing the work of a task. It is more than co-operating to get something done, where how one person fulfils their share might not impact how 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 to get the job done.
Authentic collaboration requires all participants to share the same goal and want the same outcome. All participants commit to the idea that, through working with others, everyone can benefit from a synergy of ideas and strengths, which may even develop the goal.
Most schools will have structures in place that expect 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 specific 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 challenging to work well collaboratively unless you have developed, or are at least aware of, the skills and behaviours you need. “Being collaborative” is not simply something that comes naturally to everyone.