January 05, 2012

Collaboration 6: Misdiagnosing the problem

One of seven posts about collaboration and why it nearly always fails to deliver results, inspired by Morten T Hansen's Collaboration.

The quality of the teacher is the number one factor in the improvement of an education system, collaboration is the key factor in improving the quality of that teacher.

Collaboration helps increase academic success, yet most collaboration doesn't work. Here is one of Morten T. Hansen's six key reasons for collaboration failures:

Misdiagnosing the problem

How many schools do we know where leaders want to share good practice between staff but don't know where it is, when the real problem is that people are unwilling to share their good bits of practice?

National resource- and idea-sharing platforms, 'owned' by a Government or commercial organisation, have consistently failed to bring the majority of educators to their doors as the problem they have identified - people don't have anywhere to share - is a misdiagnosis.

The problem, for large numbers of educators, is that they are unwilling to share no matter who, what or where the platform is.

Once you know that this is the problem, one can begin to work out with those people what kinds of environment might encourage them to change their behaviour.

Pic from Mark


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a good point and one that is often missed. Educational repositories are often constructed on a 'build it and they will use it' basis, but many will visit with an eye to downloading only. Part of the problem is sometimes also that many teachers dont actually have copyright of the materials they use (or have mashed up) and so that's a natural/structural barrier to sharing that inhibits many. But beyond the content, there's still the private nature of much of teaching and a lack of co-/team teaching in many professional cultures. Real sharing requires a disposition that is open to feedback, willing to change and for many this exposes a vulnerability.

Have you considered the problem of the teacher who is willing to share but whose methods actually leave a - perhaps less able - colleague shaking his head over his own ability to function adequately in the suggested manner?

Great point. I put together a website that chronicled my teaching journey and i find it astounding the supportive feedback that I have gotten. I work at a campus where I have to beg teachers to collaborate with me, sometimes they do it just to humor me, but not in earnest. Now I have folks in my community joining my classroom, sharing their abilities and resources. Just took the courage to leave my ego behind and be humble and open.

Sometimes I have the impression that school and community are two different and separate worlds. In my opinion, this is an important problem as well. To prevent that, i think that teachers and society have to work hard together to ensure that students are receiving the most beneficial education possible.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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