The information age has broadened our accessibility to information and people. As technology and consequently approaches to education advance, the roles of the teacher and learner in the 21st century are drastically altered too.My emphasis as an educator has always been about collaboration. Even the most dedicated and hard-working teacher is not as effective and resourceful as two teachers collaborating. Working with others increases productivity, encourages critical brainstorming and problem solving, increases professional learning and offers a different perspective of the content to be taught.
I have consistently pushed cross-curricular projects within my school and modelled my instruction after what the Ontario Ministry of Education has coined Teaching-Learning Critical Pathways (TLCPs). It is through working closely beside others teachers that I have learned the most about teaching.
When it comes to collaboration in my classroom, I foster a cooperative learning environment for my students through group activities and exploration of topics. I strongly believe that all people learn more in a social setting where they are encouraged to questions and test their ideas instead of a more traditional rote-style learning setting. Learners are encouraged to interact with one another, share ideas and work together to complete tasks and solve problems.
However, traditional teaching methods do not often incorporate collaborative learning and often it is viewed as ‘cheating’. Yet 21st century teaching requires a re-imagining of what learning should look like. If students are unable to share information with one another and discuss their ideas, then perhaps it is the assignment that is flawed and not the cooperative nature of the students. Teachers must re-evaluate where assignments lie on Blooms Taxonomy. If the sharing of answers between students defeats the purpose of the assignment, the task itself needs to be changed so students have the opportunity to analyse, synthesize and evaluate topics instead of simply regurgitating facts and ideas.