Collaborative Classrooms Provide The Best Preparation For Our Students
Posted by Joanna on February 11, 2016
Why do we believe in a learning environment that is built for collaboration?
Our world challenges us with a complex set of global problems and incredible opportunities to provide solutions. For instance, what happens when a barge runs aground on the Elwha River in the Pacific Northwest, spilling its oil into the river’s delicate ecosystem? It was remarkable for me to observe how eighteen first, second and third grade students applied their knowledge of ecosystems and food chains to analyzing the impact of this disaster, understood the challenges presented by the event and then designed and engineered solutions to the problem. Collaboratively.
Students teamed up and had to communicate their ideas, consider the perspectives of others, and share resources to achieve a common goal. They negotiated, compromised and employed a diverse set of skills that resulted in six different solutions to the same problem. For the children, collaboration requires analyzing and synthesizing, flexible thinking, developing strong social skills and joining forces with those who may have opposing viewpoints. Collaboration is hard!
Providing a collaborative classroom requires great effort on the behalf of teachers. Our classrooms, by Montessori design, are built for small and large groups working together, however teachers must insure that children in groups are working productively. Children aren’t placed in groups randomly; they are thoughtfully placed within a mixed group of ages, gender and diversity. Importantly, our teachers gently guide our students while they encourage leadership, empowerment and collaboration.
“Meta-problems” cannot be solved by one individual or a single technology. Concerted collaboration between countries, organizations and teams of people allow us to achieve long-lasting solutions that will advance humanity. We believe that our collaborative classrooms are best able to prepare our children to be part of future solutions.