Collaborative Classrooms

Teaching as a team sport

Author: VipulRedey

Today we see teachers as lone warriors responsible for all the teaching-learning activities in the classroom.

Collaborative Classrooms have flexibility in teaching strategies and methodologies with multiple pedagogies being used.

Using technological tools and E-Content can liberate teachers from lecturing and free class time for true human interactions bringing passion and fun to learning.

Technology has the potential of bringing quality education to anyone anywhere in the World.

Bringing in peers or a neutral teacher coach can go a long way in helping teachers improvise their teaching-learning practises.

Q.What do you mean by collaborative leadership in a classroom?

Today we see teachers as lone warriors responsible for all the teaching-learning activities in theclassroom. This existing assumption haslead to stagnation of education with the entire responsibility of quality learning resting on our teachers. Changing this perception, we want to visualise teaching as a team sport. Collaborative leadership in a classroom would entail a mixed age classroom of 75-100 students handled by 3-4 teachers with each student moving at an individual pace through the effective incorporation of technological aids.

Like any successful recipe, collaborative model entails loads of ingredients with various processing techniques and depends on the types of teachers, training that teachers have undergone, content they bring on the table and the frequency with which it is served to the students. Thus, there are a lot of dynamic and inter-related variables involved in building this model. This is not just a theoreticalconcept, the model has been tested in the Khan Lab School with positive results.

Q. What are the benefits of collaboration at classroom level?

  • Collaborative Classrooms have flexibility in teaching strategies and methodologies with multiple pedagogies being used
  • It has the potential to bring in multiple perspectives giving a bird’s eye view of concepts discussed
  • Each teacher has a specific expertise and can complement the others by adding a different dimension of skill set
  • Teachers can easily rotate in and out with no disruption caused by a substitute teacher
  • Multiple student-teacher combinations are possible with higher chances of teacher-student interactions with self-paced learning and lesser chances of teacher burnout
  • The flexibility and inclusion of human element by relooking at teaching as a team activity will help in building a dedicated framework of peer support, mentoring and exchange of ideas in classrooms

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Q. How important is technology in the collaborative classroom model?

Using technological tools and E-Content can liberate teachers from lecturing and free class time for true human interactions bringing passion and fun to learning. Students can learn at a personalised pace with technology enabling visibility at the most granular levels. Before computers, this was done through worksheets developed for every student making the process cumbersome and only undertaken by schools with ample resources. Technology has made this step easier, user-friendly and economical for all schools to put in a classroom setting. Technology has the potential of bringing quality education to anyone anywhere in the World. The One World School House written by Mr Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy details how schools can connect with their students in the digital age and in collaboration create a fresh approach to learning.

Q. How can schools adopt this model of collaboration. Where should they start?

While bringing any quantum change, start at a specific point to experiment and learn from it. Middle grades are usually adopted by schools to bring in pedagogical changes as they are usually where learning crisis starts and also they are away from the threat of board exams to ensure room for experimentation.

Q. How can teachers ensure collaboration in a classroom setting?

First, the collaborative model should be built on the expectation of good faith between the teacher players. If you have four teachers and they have to work together as a team, it is necessary they understand their individual strengths and weakness and also of the other players. Like any team sport, teaching in thecollaborative model has to be of situations where if a particular teacher’s weakness surfaces, the other teachers whose strengths are the same jump to help them and vice versa. As in any model, where people are involved, there is no full proof mechanism but what can ensure success is a team of people who believe in the model so that they go that extra mile to make it work.

Q. As the model relies on teachers being aware of their weaknesses. How can we help them recognise their pain-points?

Mentoring of teachers day to day work by an independent neutral third party is an efficient way to help him/her travel on a remedial path. The third person should observe the classroom teaching, recognise the problems and the ways that the teacher can get past them. This person should not be a part of ahierarchy or someone who can negatively impact the teacher’s career or influence the long-term career growth. Bringing in peers or a neutral teacher coach can go a long way in helping them improvise their teaching-learning practises.

About the Author

Vipul Redey

VipulRedey is the head of the school enablement at Khan Academy and in his role he fully leverages this versatile online learning tool that has revolutionised the world of education. Recently, Khan Academy has signed aMoUwith Government of Karnataka to localise e-content for its schools and Mr Redey is involved in a talent hunt for people who can explain concepts through videos. Prior to Khan Academy, he was managing Cisco’s IT training and certifications program, eleven schools under Global Discovery Schools’ (GDS), twenty schools under Pearson’s and 25,000 students pan-India. As the CXO at GDS and Director of Academics at Pearson Schools, he designed the daily classroom experience of thousands of students nationally. He is also a TED-Ed Innovative Educator, a TEDx speaker, and a Stanford University Graduate School of Education alumnus.

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