Collaboration is a common term used within education to the point it can be called a ‘buzzword’. However, have you or your colleagues sat down to discuss the difference between cooperation and collaboration or if there is a even difference between the two?

We can break these terms down into two simplified explanations below:

CollaborationCo – operation

Interdependence
The chocolate mousse analogy – without all the required ingredients and elements it cannot be chocolate mousse.

Independence
The jigsaw puzzle analogy – you can eventually pull all the jigsaw puzzle pieces apart and start again.

Professor Morton Hansen (University of Berkeley – Management) explores the importance of collaboration through four types of workers.

The Lone Star

The person who wants to do their own thing. As a teacher they are focused on their goals and their students. They often struggle to collaborate or work well in teams.

The Butterfly

The person who wants to collaborate on every initiative without focusing on their own work. As a teacher they volunteer for new initiatives and committees and as a result their work suffers.

The Laggard

The person who wants the status quo to remain and block any change.

As a teacher they may not want to try anything new (initiative overload) but there may be reasons for this that need investigating.

The T- Shape Worker

The person who is able to work horizontally and vertically.

As a teacher they are able to work well individually and are able to collaborate in teaching teams.

However, the challenge becomes where teachers find time to collaborate and see what ‘good practice’ is. This has become a significant challenge for current Across and In – Schools teachers. How do you form strong, trusting and professional relationships with such a large number of teachers? How do I effectively disseminate ‘good practice’ across the Kahui Ako? Here Flipped Learning provides an outlet where practice can be shared and the active learning opportunities Flipped Learning provides enabling teachers to analyse their practice more deeply. It allows teachers to interact asynchronously in their practice and create strong social learning systems.

Social learning systems are characterised by, “structure, complex relationships, self organisation, dynamic boundaries and ongoing negotiation of identity”. (Wenger, 2010, p.179). Learning within the social learning system is different to professional development, where it is “more than gaining skills and knowledge but becoming a certain person” (Wenger, 2010, p.181) within the structures of the community that members agree to. Social learning can occur in a range of manners, which has seen the development of new ‘hybrid’ learning spaces (Solomon, Boud & Rooney, 2006), where an “individual is working and socialising” (Solomon, Boud & Rooney, 2006, p.5). This form of learning enhances our professional capital, allowing teachers to work effectively together to bring about effective change in school improvement (Rincón-Gallardo & Fullan, 2016).

This has been a short introduction to part of the work I have been completing on Flipped Learning in New Zealand. It is a shift in how we can teach and help our learners achieve their goals. However, it can shape how we interact and develop as educators. If you would like to connect with other Kiwi educators please join @nzflippedlearn on Twitter.

Guest Post by Jeremy Cumming
Jeremy is a Husband, Dad and teacher from Nelson. He enjoys all things sport and is passionate about creating powerful learning opportunities for students.

Categories: Guest Blog