How do we set the stage for group work? Too often, we assume that our students come to us knowing how to work in groups, so we simply place them into groups and provide them with an assignment to complete together. And then we wonder why it doesn’t work.
Collaborative skills, like all other skills, need to be taught
We need to provide clear expectations, teach group skills explicitly, model those skills, and provide actual time for students to build relationships and learn how to function in the group. Hardworking teachers ask, “How can I take time away from my overloaded content to teach collaborative skills?” Like the establishment of all norms, the time we take to teach these skills early on pays off big time later in the form of a positive, productive learning community.
Three crucial lessons
Authors Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey contend that three types of lessons need to take place during the first crucial weeks of the school year: lessons on personal responsibility, respectful discourse, and problem-solving, and that these lessons can be taught in ways that build classroom community. When I took the time in my own classroom for students to get to know each other, rather than jumping directly into content, we built a strong classroom community that advanced the learning of every individual.
As you begin planning for your classes, keep in mind these three major categories as you plan for your first few weeks of school. What am I planning in my classroom that will help develop the skills of my students in accepting personal responsibility, engaging in respectful discourse, and participating in collaborative problem-solving? If these three areas are addressed explicitly, if you model what they look/sound like, and students are given opportunities to practice them, collaborative work will be far more successful throughout the school year.
Learn More at an Upcoming Institute
Develop skills and strategies to effectively mentor, coach and lead adult learning that impact student growth.
In this institute you will learn a collaborative and inquiry-based approach to professional communication which focuses on supporting colleagues’ thinking around planning, reflecting and problem-solving. You will learn how to refine your language to support novice to experienced teachers using coaching, collaborating, and consulting that best fits the situation.
September 27-28, 2017