Collaborative Classroom Blog

Common Core Tip 35—Creating the Conditions for Academic Discussion and Collaboration for Both Adults and Students

By Ginger Cook | Categories: Common Core Standards

We’re repeating this tip because it was a favorite with our readers. If you missed it, we hope you enjoy it. If you caught it the first time, we hope you’ll appreciate the opportunity to revisit it.

Where are you with your shift to the Common Core? While some are focused on the standards’ content, others are turning their attention to the processes and conditions needed for these standards to take hold, and social and emotional learning is gaining more traction. I’ve seen this more than ever in Oakland Unified School District this year.

This year’s theme for our work in 29 Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) elementary schools is “How can we create the conditions for deeper academic discussion and collaboration?” OUSD had already created a definition for academic discussion, so during our Caring School Community Summer Institute we focused our attention on collaboration. OUSD is focusing on creating the conditions for learning not only for students but also for adults, believing that if you create the conditions for adults they will be better able to support students. For this reason, Oakland teacher leaders and principals brainstormed the conditions that were present when collaboration was thriving for adults in their schools. Here’s what they shared:

What Effective Collaboration Looks Like:

  • Active, interested listeners; respectful and patient with others; accepting of others’ ideas as well as conflicts and disagreements; effective communicators
  • Come to meetings prepared, and be reflective when there
  • Time is allotted for collaboration, feedback, and FUN
  • There is a role for each person and all are accountable to the group
  • All voices given equal weight
  • All members trust one another and have the best interests of others in mind
  • Commitment to the goal(s) of the group

This list applies to student needs as well. Deep, meaningful student exchanges won’t happen unless we create an environment in which it can take root and thrive. So what can you do to create conditions for the kind of deep collaboration described above?

Research and the results of many Caring School Community program implementations have shown that building relationships between students, and between teachers and their students, is critical for collaboration. Here are three ways you can begin the process:

  1. Try at least one new Teacher Facilitation Technique (see impact of social and emotional learning, other online SEL resources, and CSC, and how it can help you create the conditions for the Common Core. Without a baseline of trust and respect, how can students have rigorous and rich debate, an open and honest exchange of ideas, and learn from one another?