Collaboration

Collaboration is often called the lifeblood of innovation, but rather than tap into the wealth of collective knowledge, experience, and diverse points of view that exist within any school, most suffer from an isolation epidemic. The current education model that dominates our schools was designed for a different time and place, when educators and students did not need to routinely collaborate to help equip students with the skills and knowledge they needed for success. But times have changed and collaboration is an essential element in a rapidly changing world. Schools that are averse to a culture of collaboration risk a destiny of irrelevance as the world races past them. Open Way Learning emphasizes collaboration in the classroom and among educators to solve problems that are best solved by a team, not alone.. Effective teacher teams are capable of innovating countless approaches to address issues for their students and stakeholders and act as visible role models for the types of collaboration students will need as they enter a global marketplace.

How To Implement

Easy

Is every classroom emphasizing collaboration, not isolation?
A Helpful Resource

Easy

Are you attending EdCamps and other “unconferences” to participate in customized and collaborative professional development?
A Helpful Resource

Easy

Have you thought about ways to promote collaboration through the arrangement of a classroom?
A Helpful Resource

Easy

Do your colleagues and you participate in virtual networks of other educators trying to solve similar problems to you?
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Does your team have a shared vision? Ask every staff member to write down what they think it is, then compare answers.
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Is your Professional Learning Community potent and solution-oriented? If not, institute norms, protocols, and standing agendas.
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Have you identified professional development opportunities stemming from teacher-to-teacher partnerships in your district?
A Helpful Resource

Medium

Do you have a clear-eyed understanding of the obstacles for collaboration and have plans to overcome initial resistance?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Has your school built its own network to help students connect beyond the classroom and see the true relevance of their work?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Has your school distributed the leadership by ensuring that teachers have the power to participate in decision-making that will impact students?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Have you thought about ways to promote collaboration through the layout of a school?
A Helpful Resource

Hard

Has your school reevaluated its schedule so that routine, peer-to-peer collaboration is the rule and not the exception (department, grade level, and inter-disciplinary)?
A Helpful Resource

The above links and the video tips below are examples from the resources used in the research and development of 'Open Up, Education!' They, along with the references cited in the book, are intended to be used with the following Discussion Tips to allow you and your peers to adapt the key elements of Open Way Learning to your own school's context. A more comprehensive listing of such resources can also be found in the Open Way Learning course on the Odigia online learning platform.

Discussion Starter Checklist

Video Tips

Other owl ingredients

Free Knowledge

We learn more from each other and are able to respond to the needs of our learning community when information is open. The information age has changed the paradigm regarding the acquisition of knowledge. No longer dependent on formal institutions, today’s learner can easily find what she needs, when she needs it. Rather than fighting this current, educators need to learn to leverage it by shifting away from hoarding tendencies, shifting from being “teachers” to “learning guides,” and encouraging open, transparent sharing in their classrooms.

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Innovation

The challenges facing our world demand innovative thinkers that use creative problem solving to tackle messy problems. But the term “innovation” has been thrown around so much that it has lost its potency. Open Way Learning focuses on true innovation that thrives in an environment of radical collaboration and open, freely exchanged ideas. It is within this environment that educators and students are able to use the Design Process to develop continuous improvement mindsets that help them solve pressing problems in their schools.

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Open Way Culture

Open Way Learning is not a methodology that tends to work with "window-dressing" changes for your classroom, school, or district. It is a fundamental shift in culture away from the comfortable traditions that produce relatively predictable results that may be “good enough,” to a new paradigm that welcomes uncertainty, demands continuous improvement, and produces learners ready to take on the challenges in a rapidly changing world. It’s a compelling model for the pioneers ready to create change in an educational system that stubbornly resists it.

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