Every Saturday at CrossFit on the River, we have a Team Workout of the Day (WOD). As 50+ people walk into the gym, we anxiously look at the whiteboard to see what movements the WOD will require us to do, then folks scan the room to see who lifts similar weight as they do (so we can share a barbell), or who moves at a similar pace (so no one is resting or working more than the other). Most team workouts, we're asked to find a partner mostly because there are so many of us and so few pieces of equipment to go around. Yesterday's WOD, though, required us to have a partner to complete the movements (not just share equipment and space). The outcome? Teammates that worked equally as hard for the entirety of the WOD and supporting each other to genuinely "keep pushing through the rough spots" because if they didn't, then neither did you!!!
Bottom line, if you're going to ask students to work in teams, then be sure to design a project which requires thought partnership from teammates (not just splitting up research for the sake of completing work faster). If you'd like some help with this part of project design, please.... let me know!
Once you've figured out where and how collaboration will support student learning in your project design, it's important that you scaffold collaborative skills in your classroom and school-wide. Here are a few best practices, tips, and resources that you might find useful:
- Hear some of the common pros and cons of group work in this Fires in the Mind blog post, feating a few short video clips of students talking about collaboration.
- Use inquiry -- show students an example of effective collaboration and ask students to generate guidelines for collaboration.
- Invite a parent, business partner, mentor, etc. in to share their experiences with collaboration
- Hold short workshops on effective communication, conflict resolution, and/or holding someone accountable (or use students who excel in these areas to lead those workshops)
- Build Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team into your curriculum (for the quick low down, check out this .pdf )
- Have students self-evaluate and reflect using a team effectiveness survey.
What have you tried? How often do you build in opportunities to support the development of collaboration skills? Feel free to comment on the blog to continue the conversation!
Peace, love, and TeamWODs,