I won’t lie. Every time I hear the words, “Team work” the first thing that comes to mind is my four-year-old signing the theme song from The Wonder Pets.
The second thing is a flashback to myself hearing shrieks in alternate universes reliving every “group project” I’ve ever participated in. Yes. It is that bad.
However, I venture to say that I’ve finally, after 26 years, participated in the first successful “group” “team” “collaborative” project of my life. For my class, I teamed up with 4 other women, whom I have never met in person, to create a video. In my previous post, I described how much work it is to plan, shoot, and create a video. And yet, we were still extremely successful.
- Collaborative tools: First, we got off to a great start using two awesome collaborative tools: Google Docs and Facebook Chat. Using these two tools, we were able to brainstorm and constantly collaborate–both at and away from our computers!
- Introductions and strengths: Using Google Docs, we introduced ourselves and lined out our teaching assignments and experience. 4 out of the 5 group members had experience in Math and Science, and 4 out of 5 of us had experience in primary grades. This lead us to select a topic everyone was comfortable with: 3rd grade math.
- Division of labor: After our basic introductions, we got right to work deciding who would do what. We assigned 5 major roles: Script Writing and Story Boarding, Finding images and collecting Copy Right information, Voice Overs, Creating the title, TEKS, and credits, AND editing the pieces together.
- Constant communication: The video idea evolved as we worked over a 3-week period. We used our collaborative tools to keep each other informed along the way.
What did I learn from this?
Well, I am reminded that collaboration has to be taught. I was so lucky to get an awesome group of women to work with who understand collaboration. But what about our students? Do they know how to collaborate? Do they understand how to work with others? Do they have access to the tools necessary to make collaboration a constant and successful endeavor?
As a teacher, I know that I must clearly define roles for students in projects. Students need access to the tools to make it happen. They also need models of successful collaboration (us!) and instruction in how to deal with potential conflict.
This project also forced me to come to terms with a reality of education: nothing we do happens in a bubble. Those of us who are “go getters” and highly motivated, at some point in our careers, eventually try out the old adage that “if you want something done right, you do it yourself.” THEN, we quickly get burned out. I’ve done it. I’ve tried. I have occasionally been successful–but at a cost. Sometimes that cost is my health. Sometimes the cost is high quality instruction. Sometimes, the cost is relationships.
Doing everything myself, and doing everything “right” is not only a selfish and self-centered way of accomplishing tasks, it sacrifices the opportunity to learn and grow.
I am a life-long learner. I am not always right. Other people can teach me new things and have new ideas to contribute. I can teach others when I am willing to interact with them. WE can do more together.
Progress in education depends on networks of professional learning and collaboration. Period.
Now, a final note to my co-collaboartors!
Thank you ladies for being an awesome group. Thank you for turning our “group project” into an awesome community of learning and support. Thank you for modeling what we hope our students can one day achieve. Knowing that all of you are in the same Master’s program as me give me hope for the future of education. Your students and coworkers are all surely blessed to have your influence and work ethic hard at work for them!
View our project here:
Signing off now: