As mentioned by in Concepcion, Holtzman & Ranieri (2009), “Becoming a part of a community of scholars of teaching and learning who make a culture of courageous innovation is crucial to long-term impact on student learning” (p. 5). What a powerful takeaway here. I have worked by many educators who lived alone on an island and rarely interacted or shared with others. I believe that there was a time where you could get away with this, but I also feel that times have changed so much so, that we can no longer operate in the same manner and achieve the same results. The rumblings of Piaget are captured within this text, in that “Engaging in open, idea-driven speaking and listening allows members of a group not only to borrow ideas they hear, but to internalize the way others think through ideas, consider assumptions, imagine possibilities, options, evaluate details, and select directions” (Concepcion, Holtzman & Ranieri, 2009, p. 5-6). Understanding how to collaborate is very important, however, more than knowing and the process of collaboration, “success (within collaboration) is more likely to be determined by and dependent on the motivations, commitment, and the sheer time and effort invested by those responsible for carrying out the vision” (O’Neil, 2013, p.68). It makes total sense that the longevity of the follow through is really where the emphasis needs to be placed.
Why has collaboration become such an essential tool? This is not only for educators, but students, as well as other professionals across disciplines. The thought that resonated most was that ultimately, the jobs that we do are designed to be able to reach the masses, and impact individuals that are of diverse groups. Keeping that thought in mind, it is through collaboration that we are able to get the most bang for your buck, gather a multiplicity of perspectives and angles and ultimately be more impactful in what and how we do. Collaboration is for the benefit of all (Fitzpatrick, 2011), as identified even in the veterinary business, and how much more as an educator, when decisions are made that are crucial to outcomes. Collaboration must happen between doctors and veterinarians even, in order to provide proper care to animals (Fitzpatrick, 2011). More to the point that societal changes happen every day and the decisions surrounding whether something this ethical or moral or even feasible, is an important part of practice. It is necessary to point out that “Collaborative relationships are not all alike, and different arrangements are needed to serve different purposes and require varying degrees of investment of people, time, and resources” (O’Neil, 2013, p. 67). Equally important is that the key(s) to success “begin with understanding how the world is changing and embracing certain guiding principles to shape the nature and scope of the partnership to ensure that desired–and shared– goals and outcomes are achieved and, when appropriate, sustained over time” (O’Neil, 2013, p. 67). When the goals of an organization, school or business are shared or are common, then collaboration appears the likely resolve.
Jason Perez discusses the typical sharing of the parking lot by educators and nothing more that tends to happen at schools, but relies four ideas to help to build collaborative efforts coined by Parry Graham & William Ferriter: forming, storming, norming and performing. When an educator has worked for so long leaning only on themselves, collaboration can be a challenging idea to grasp. However, this does not take anything away from its benefits. I’ve heard the statement a few times that “we are better together.” As noted by Dr. Perez, teacher attrition is a problem due to the increase in expectations and responsibilities, and feeling like you are out there alone. But consider the antithesis. Consider the possibility that there is another teacher out there waiting to collaborate with you. Perhaps there is some risk involved, because it requires that you step out of your comfort zone. However, the benefits, especially long-term, outweigh the costs .The more I think about that, the more I understand that it is not an example of losing credibility, but rather knowing that when you are able to strengthen the ties, the impact, by nature of “together” becomes a greater one.
Concepción, D., Holtzman, M., & Ranieri, P. (2009). Sustaining student and faculty success: A model for student learning and faculty development. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, 3(1), 1-10.
Fitzpatrick, N. (2011). Encouraging collaboration for the benefit of all. The Veterinary Record, 169(11), 287. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/vr.d5015
O’Neil, E., H. (2013). Collaboration–for whose benefit? Journal of Nursing Education, 52(2), 67-68. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/01484834-20130123-10