By Regina McDuffie, PhD, Head of School at The Rhoades School
Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” At The Rhoades School, our students learn that collaboration is not just about achieving personal success, but also about contributing to the success of others and making a positive impact on their community and the world. As a school designed for and dedicated to serving bright, high-achieving students, we focus on teaching children how to think, not what to think.
So, what constitutes collaboration and how can we better collaborate? Collaboration requires listening, considering alternatives, being open to constructive feedback, and embracing others’ ideas. Collaborative thinking fosters a sense of community and mutual respect not just among our students, but also the teachers, staff, and families.
Real-world examples of collaboration are all around us. One example of how we foster collaborative thinking at The Rhoades School is through our Apple Distinguished School program, where effective practices are shared with the broader education community, particularly those working in gifted education.
Through the use of Apple technology, The Rhoades School communicates and collaborates with other gifted schools to develop innovative curriculum and instructional practices. It also connects our Rhoades School students with other students and experts in professional fields.
A leader in gifted education, The Rhoades School is a community of collaborative, creative, and curious learners and a center for continuous improvement and innovative practices.
Here are three tips to foster collaborative thinking (in and out of the classroom):
• Establish Clear Communication Channels: To foster collaborative thinking, it’s crucial to establish clear communication channels. This means that everyone involved should have a clear understanding of the expectations and the tools that will be used to facilitate communication. This can include virtual collaboration platforms, messaging apps, email, video conferencing, or any other tool that helps facilitate communication.
• Encourage Diverse Perspectives: Collaborative thinking is most effective when everyone involved brings their unique perspectives to the table. Encourage people to share their ideas and opinions openly, and to actively listen to others. It’s also essential to recognize that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and that diverse perspectives can help identify potential solutions to problems that might not have been considered otherwise.
• Foster a Positive and Supportive Environment: Finally, it’s important to create a positive and supportive environment. Encourage people to build relationships with each other and to seek out opportunities to support one another. Recognize and celebrate the contributions of each person, and encourage everyone to work towards a shared goal. By creating a positive and supportive environment, you can help ensure that everyone is motivated to contribute their best thinking towards the group’s efforts.
Ultimately, collaborative thinking facilitates more successful outcomes and productive contributions for all involved. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but each day we all have a choice on how to engage with others—sometimes two heads, or three or four, are better than one.
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