10 Powerful Benefits that Will Make You Want to Collaborate

10 Powerful Benefits to Collaborating With Other Teachers
More and more educators are being encouraged to collaborate with colleagues. And more and more school systems are rolling out initiatives to increase their teachers' collaboration time and skills. Collaboration has become the battle cry for the 21st century teaching model. Here are 10 powerful benefits to collaboration.

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. Andrew Carnegie

The 4 C's of 21st century learning are - critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. Collaboration includes the ability to work effectively with diverse teams, being flexible and willing to be helpful while making compromises, and being able to assume a shared responsibility for collaborative work while still valuing individual contributions.

But does collaboration really make that much difference? Does it actually impact my students' learning? Is collaboration really worthwhile?

Many teachers are trying to avoid the collaboration table. They have been successfully teaching for many years without collaboration... so why change?

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team. Phil Jackson 

There are real and valid reasons for educators to collaborate.

Benefits to Collaboration

1. Collaboration is a 21st Century Skill 

As stated above, collaboration is a 21st century learning skill. More and more employers are crying for employees who can collaborate with others. Gone are the days that jobs are completed in isolation. It appears that the community at large has recognized that if 2 heads are better than one, even more heads might be best.

 Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Helen Keller 

2. Set an Example of Collaboration 

Teachers, and dare I say administrators, should be setting the example of collaboration for our students. We should be showing students that we respect differences. We should be demonstrating our conflict resolution skills. And we should be establishing an atmosphere of interdependence.

 And well, if we are going to be expecting our students to demonstrate these 21st Century skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration, shouldn't we be exhibiting them as well?

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. Henry Ford 

3. Rise in Student Achievement 

This is the real reason collaboration is being exalted as the next best thing! "Research suggests that collaboration with colleagues around student instruction is an essential part of every teacher’s job and results in rising student achievement." Laurel Killough states in her article Research Show Teacher Collaboartaion Helps Raise Student Achievement

 A study of 1,200 kindergarten through 5th grade New York City teachers shows that when teachers reported frequent math conversations with peers, students exhibited higher gains in math.

Another study of 336 Miami-Dade Public Schools over a 2 year period concluded that schools with strong collaborative environments had students with greater achievement gains.

And these aren't the only studies to support the claim that collaboration increases student achievement. This rise in student achievement due to teacher collaboration should be enough of a reason to collaborate all on its own!

Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. Mattie Stepanek

4. Build Relationships 

Collaboration allows teachers to work side by side in the trenches. You get out of your classrooms and interact with your peers. You begin to build solid relationships. You begin to rely on each other. You build on the sense that you are all in this together and you are not alone.

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. —Ryunosuke Satoro 

5. Build a Sense of School Community 

Collaboration tears down the barriers of grade levels and classroom doors. Teachers, administrators, aids, and clerks begin to embrace the concept that OUR school and OUR students matter to ALL of us. We become one with the school and understand its mission as our own.

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. Henry Ford 

6. Shared Responsibility 

Responsibility means the state of being responsible, being answerable and being accountable. For teachers, this is a huge burden. We have never shied away from our responsibility. We know that we are responsible for our students. That we are accountable for our students' learning. Many good teachers have bowed under this immense obligation and burden.

But with collaboration, teachers can share each others' burdens. We can share the duty of planning. We can share the strain of discipline. We can share the difficulty of reaching each and every student. You are not alone! My friend and I often said it takes 2 good teachers to make 1 great teacher!

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Isaac Newton 

7. Strengthen Each Other 

Okay, I will be the first to admit that I am not great with math. It is just not my cup of tea. I, however, LOVE reading and writing (hence the blog). With collaboration, my shortcoming with math can be covered by one of my teammates who has strong number sense. And then my strengths with reading and writing can help bolster up my teammate's needs in that area. We share our strengths. We share our knowledge.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up. Oliver Wendell Holmes 

8. Increase in Knowledge 

I may not know about Whole Brain Learning or The Daily 5 or even Guided Reading. But my friend on my team does. So now I know! We share our knowledge! Especially fun with new ideas!

The fun for me in collaboration is, one, working with other people just makes you smarter; that's proven. Lin-Manuel Miranda 

9. Problem Solving  

When little Johnny won't sit in his seat or Sarah reverses her 3's or Ethan can't multiply, it is super nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of. If your team has already connected and built on that collaborative spirit, you have a sounding board for your classroom and student issues. You have a safe place to seek ideas. A safe harbor to help you problem solve.

The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other. Thomas Stallkamp 

10. Differentiation 

It is so much easier to differentiate when you are working with a team. You can mix students. Or one teacher could take a small group off to the side while the other teacher works with the rest of the students. You can provide more one-on-one learning opportunities when there is more than one teacher. Collaboration also allows for more interaction between teachers and students.

One of the best ways to differentiate is to split the planning. One can plan the extension activity while another can plan out the on-level activity and a third can plan the below-level activities.

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. Charles Darwin 

10 Powerful Benefits to Collaborating With Your Peers

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