Open Court Reading:

How to Teach Teamwork

My tips for teaching collaboration by Mathew Needleman

1. We create a T-chart together. A T-Chart has a large T on it which
creates two columns and a header. At the top write collaboration (or
teamwork) then draw an eye on one side and an ear on the other side. Ask
the students to tell you what we expect to see if everyone was working
together and what would we expect to hear. List these on the chart in the
appropriate column.

2. Then give the students 5-10 minutes to work independently. Your job
as a teacher is to go around and look for things that were mentioned on
the chart while students work independently. The first time or even the
first week I wouldn't interact with students but see everything and take
notes. At the end of the 5-10 minutes you debrief together and ask the
class how it went. Be sure to mention things you saw in practice that
came from the chart. Like "I heard Rosa say 'good job' to her partner"
or "Tommy was looking his partner in the eye when he spoke." Focusing on the positive behavior, of course, generally gets you better results.

This is a long process of several days or weeks. This is for every class
not just the ones that teachers say can't work collaboratively. The good
news is that when you train them all classes can work collaboratively.
The bad news is that the first couple of months of school you can't give
students real complex collaborative tasks yet until they've been trained.

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