WHY IS COLLABORATION SO IMPORTANT FOR STUDENTS?
As the 21st century moves forward, it has become apparent that our ways of educating students in the past are no longer as relevant as perhaps they once were. Employers have told us time and again that their newly-graduated employees don’t have what it takes to effectively thrive in today’s competitive, creative workplace. Collaboration is one way that teachers can help prepare students for the workforce of today and tomorrow.
In the past, a lot of choral repetition and memorization might have been how students learned the basic fundamentals of education. Now, however, students have to be prepared for fast-moving, innovative teams that think critically and deeply about the market’s and the world’s problems to solve them. Learning to work with others on a team is critical to help students leave school prepared for work life, whether they start their own companies, are freelancers who have to communicate with their clients or employees at more traditional organizations.
In the classroom, give your students every opportunity to work together. Allow their imaginations and more in-depth questions about the world to guide their work. This will spark their creativity and get them engaged in working together. You’ll find that your students want to do an excellent job on their part of a group project when they are interested in the topic they’re working on.
Also, intentionally teach your students how to work as part of a team. This has to be explicitly modeled. For example, you might create an anchor chart with expressions that students can refer to when they disagree with a teammate about how something should be done. This way, they learn how to politely disagree and how to add their own voices to the discussion.
Another way to show students how to work together is to make sure each student knows what part of the project they are responsible for and provide them with specific steps to finish each of their tasks. Show them a finished model of what you expect them to create individually and as a group to give them a reference but let them take the lead in how they get there as much as possible.
By preparing students to dialogue with one another, to become responsible for their part of a group’s project, and providing scaffolding and modeling, you’re encouraging them to share ideas, to think more critically, and you’re preparing them for the real world after school.