Preparing a lesson for student teaching led me to think about times in the classroom that require collaboration among the students. In my opinion, collaboration needs to occur as soon as all members of the class enter the classroom walls. During Back to School week, I like the idea of providing periodic ice-breakers. This allows myself and students to get to know each other, along with getting to know each other better. Some students will have been together since Kindergarten, learning new information, even in seventh or eighth grade. When new students join the school, this helps to alleviate any anxiety they may have.
Collaboration does not take place one hundred percent of the time, however, when taking place, it is imperative for all to participate. Implementing group work, it is crucial to pre-arrange student groups. In thinking about student placement, I recommend scaffolding the groups, in order to have differing abilities within each group community. To the seasoned teacher, this is not a surprise. It offers opportunity for instructors to observe the groups, as well as give table and individual assistance when needed. These groups will most likely change over time. As students alternate groups, they are able to gain experience from unique backgrounds each student brings to the table.
I am a believer of giving each child a fresh start at the beginning of the school year. One may hear stories of students from previous years. Academics history may need a new teacher’s attention, in order to determine needs. When considering student behavior, I like to think of each student walking through the classroom door with a clean slate. That being said, it may take time to determine who works best with which group.
In working as a long-term substitute last year, I was left with a list of student needs, which was a benefit, however I determined the helpers and the students in need of assistance. This allowed me to provide students with cohesive, complementary groups to collaborate when working in stations and group projects. Also, there were opportunities for lessons in tolerance as well.
Overall, collaboration helps build strong communities, who in the end have opportunity for much success!