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Five Tips to Encourage Student Collaboration in the Classroom

Peace is a high-school English and literature teacher...her articles are inspired by her classroom experiences.

Power of Collaboration.

Collaboration is important in every aspect of life. I have been off here for quite some time because I've been so overwhelmed with work and writing scholarship essays which pulled me in a lot of directions and during this time, I've interacted and built good relationships with other scholarship applicants from diverse countries. Listening and learning from each other has made the application process less tedious and improved productivity because we have supported each other to reach our goals.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." – African Proverb

I believe in the power of collaboration and as a teacher, I have always engaged my students in activities that will allow them to work together instead of pursuing their own interests all the time.I give them room to interact and consult each other and build healthy peer relationships. Actually some students understand a course work better when it is explained by their colleagues. Promoting collaboration among students is not so easy to coordinate but doable. Based on my classroom experiences the five methods I would be listing below have proven to be effective in encouraging teamwork and helping students gain critical thinking and problem solving skills.

My students working together to solve word puzzles.

My students working together to solve word puzzles.

FIVE TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE CLASSROOM COLLABORATION


1. CREATE COMPLEX ASSIGNMENTS.

Why do I need help when it's so easy and I can do it on my own? Students won't feel the need to work together in groups if an assignment is easy because they have it all covered. But when the assignment is complex, they need to come together, share knowledge to be able to complete that particular task successfully.



2. GROUP PROJECTS

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This helps students to come together and make plans together. A good example is one time my class had a debate coming up on "boarding school is better than day school". The proposing and opposing groups were picked by ballot. It was really beautiful to see how everyone was working towards a common goal. They decided where to meet during breaks and after school to practice. Everyone had a role to play and these group projects also help shy people to come out of their shell and feel more comfortable.

3. CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT.

There would always be that one student who feels everyone else is wrong and always makes snide remarks about others' opinion there by making them uncomfortable. Teachers should let everyone know before the start of a project that there's no place for rudeness, everyone should voice their thoughts without putting anyone down. I, for one, like to come from a place that everyone is doing the best they can instead of finding faults outrightly. This sort of constructive criticism creates a nurturing environment that makes students willing to work together.

4. A MID-SIZED GROUP WORKS BEST.

Well, this depends on the size of the classroom but ideally a group of five to six will be perfect, this allows students to work smoothly together. Too many ideas can confuse students. Also ask feedback from students. It helps the teacher know things that didn't work well with them and to plan future projects better.


5. OFFER INCENTIVES.

It's only natural as humans to want a reward for achieving success. Reward team effort and individual contribution when necessary. This is crucial in encouraging collaboration in future because somehow students will realize the benefit of teamwork. These incentives could be a pen, stickers or anything at all that students fancy.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Peace Tobe Dike

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