GLEANER: Collaborating with others is increasingly becoming a necessity for life success. After all, "no man is an island, and no man stands alone".
Strong collaboration skills are necessary to work constructively and effectively in teams so that integration of individual expertise and ideas mesh into a coherent solution. In the world, face-to-face interaction with colleagues across a conference table has evolved. Workers increasingly accomplish tasks through mediated interactions with peers stationed across the world that they may never meet in person.
The very nature of how we interact has evolved, and is evolving, and requires a sophisticated skill set that requires development over time beginning in school.
As with other skills, we can no longer assume that collaborative competence is something that our students will learn on their own.
Collaboration is a process that results in other desired individual and group outcomes such as successful problem solving and enhanced intellectual development.
The National Standards Curriculum (NSC) highlights the importance of cooperative interpersonal capabilities. It describes collaboration as involving the discussion of ideas and concepts among team members to accomplish common goals and benefiting all parties.
NSC activities and Primary Exit Profile (PEP) assessments will require students to demonstrate this skill through various activities introduced in the classroom. Students will be expected to integrate the multiple perspectives to produce a final product while managing conflict that can often arise with group work.
Within the classroom setting, lesson plans for PEP performance tasks should be designed by your child's teacher in such a way that reinforces shared responsibility among students and fostering inclusivity in making substantive decisions. These features help students learn important collaboration skills of negotiation, conflict resolution, agreement on what must be done, distribution of tasks, listening to the ideas of others, and integration of ideas into a coherent whole.
HAVE A CONVERSATION
For projects that are brought home, parents should be able to determine whether the learning activities are honing these skills. Parents can be alert and inquire if the child's work is inter-dependent. Have a conversation with you child's teacher to clarify whether this skill set is being developed and assessed.
When collaborative skills are honed at home, children will be able to apply them to all areas of life. Outside of in-school assignments, parents can help their children to become team players by:
- Encouraging them to interact with siblings or friends. Examples of activities are putting on a play, engaging in team sports or playing board games in teams. Be available to make suggestions as children practise negotiation skills.
- Acknowledging and affirming children when they work well together.
- Promoting communication and active listening. If children are having difficulty working together, take time to talk about differing perspectives. Encourage them to discuss their feelings and to listen to each other, giving opportunities to speak without interrupting.
Engaging in role play. Talk about "stepping into someone else's shoes" to teach and to build empathy.
Talk with children about the value of a having a positive attitude, encouraging other group members, and including friends in groups.
Let's prepare our kids for the skills they need not just for PEP, but life. Great collaborators are leaders, organisers, idea generators, helpers and encouragers. Let's prepare them for success for their future and the future of Jamaica.
- Brittany Singh Williams is the founder of SPARK Education Ltd and is a senior adviser to the minister of state in the ministry of education, youth and information. Learn more about the 4C's at "Enhancing Learning for 21st Century Students" on July 14, 2018, at 24 East King's House Road. Register today at www.spark-education.com or call 876.576.7756.