Collaboration, not just with adults

To learn in just one way is to do a disservice to what learning truly is. Think of all the different ways that people learn, visually, online, books, social media, making, and more. If we were to just choose one way to learn, would we be better? Would we be where we are today?


Those that choose one way to learn, one way to do something, are essentially putting blinders on to what true learning is. Our schools, for what they are, have more blinders in place, than looking around to see what others are doing. The same goes for how teachers create lessons. We say we are creating lessons for the students. Have we ever stopped and asked students for their input? Trevor Bryan (from 4 O’Clock Faculty) has a great post on collaboration with students. His post really got me thinking about what I see every day and what I should be seeing each day. We need student input. We need to let go of control and be ok with not knowing the paths that every student will follow. If we do more facilitating and less lecturing, think about where we will be on our learning journey.

Students are learners and should be creators, not just consumers. When we collaborate with them, learning becomes a journey we are on together. Sometimes the paths are unknown, but that’s the beauty of learning. Connections are made that take us on multiple paths, all coming back together at the end to show the joy we all have had during the day.

“The more we explore,

the more we discover.”

~Trevor Bryan

I am surprised when I slow down and ask students their thoughts. What I am even more amazed at is the learning I can do when I sit down with students, not in front of them. Think of the expertise that students bring to our learning spaces each day. These aren’t just robots that are absorbing information, but living growing humans who are creating amazing things each day. We need to tap into their expertise because their brains can and will bring better ideas than just ours’ (teacher).

Collaboration is a skill we want everyone to do. Question is does that happen?

Students listening to a teacher talk, collaboration?

Teachers providing a guiding question, a little more collaboration?

Students coming up with guiding questions and problems then working towards a solution, quite a bit more collaboration.

These aren’t just robots that are absorbing information, but living growing humans who are creating amazing things each day.

Which one of these do you see more often in your school? Why do we still teach where it’s the teacher doing the talking and the students doing the listening. The biggest mistake we have ever made is to think that teachers have all the knowledge. I don’t want to be a knowledge giver, I want to be a knowledge seeker. My goal is to seek out that knowledge from all types of learners, children or adults. I have a 3rd grade student who comes in after school and feels comfortable enough to tell me all he knows about minecraft. Why do you think he does that? All because I have built a relationship with him that allows for us to learn from each other. He’s a wealth of knowledge and I would be less of a learner if I discounted his thoughts. I have 4th grade students who are learning to code with Tynker and have now transitioned to coding to learn. This happens totally through collaboration between myself and those 25 4th graders. I have learned so much from them, only because we have built relationships that show I am excited to learn from them.


Collaboration happens all the time outside of the school day. Students collaborate on games, sports teams, building different creations, creating music, art work, and the list goes on and on. We need to bring this collaboration into our schools and that will happen when we change the culture of teachers being the all knowing director/dictator. Let’s allow students to find out their path of learning, learn from each other, and more importantly adults need to learn from children.

How long will it take for all teachers to grasp what we have in front of us each day, an opportunity to provide students the chance to see adults as partners in learning. Stop with the worksheets, stop with the lectures, start with letting go of control and seeing what students have to say. The impact is astronomical if all teachers were to do this at a school. 30 adults working with 500 students. What an amazing possibility and one that can happen if we all collaborate together.

We need to tap into their expertise because their brains can and will bring better ideas than just ours’ (teacher).



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