The Importance of Collaboration

Kimberly Formisano, Head of Lower School

The fourth and fifth graders recently had an opportunity to practice collaboration skills with the support of two educators from Project Adventure. The Middle School has also worked with Project Adventure, and we thought it would provide consistency to partner with experts that already have a relationship with the School. Since the Lower School has been working on building social and emotional learning (SEL) skills, and learning how to collaborate with peers is a critical aspect of our SEL curriculum, Project Adventure seemed like a perfect fit.
I participated in much of the day and got to both experience and observe the hard work of collaborating. Challenges arose when listening to one another’s ideas, making compromises, and working together to accomplish the goal. There were moments when it would have been easier to quit and walk away from the activity but under the support of the two Project Adventure leaders, students worked it out and cheered when they accomplished the task. It was exhausting work and incredibly worthwhile. It highlighted how important collaboration is and how collaborative skills need to be explicitly taught.  
During the pandemic when schools moved to remote learning, collaboration was one of the first things to go. A national survey revealed that when schools shifted online, 65% of teachers reduced the amount of partner or group work that they assigned to their students (Schwartz, 2021). We can see the impact of that in the classroom and teachers work hard to give students the tools they need to successfully navigate partner and group work. The time spent working on these skills is critical, because while we don’t necessarily know the jobs that children will hold in the future, we do know that collaborative skills will always be deemed essential. Additionally, we aim to create classrooms where students recognize the value of different voices and perspectives and environments where equitable learning and participation can thrive. 
Schwartz, S. (2021). How to make teaching better: 8 lessons learned from remote and hybrid learning. EducationWeek: Technology Counts, 40(30), 8–10. 
As an inclusive private school community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.