― Helen Keller
"Why not work smarter, not harder?" some may wonder.
But curriculum renewal in Saskatchewan has, perhaps, sparked a change in how we work with others in this profession. Out of necessity (aka survival) more and more teachers are helping each other, if not collaboratively, then cooperatively, by sharing lessons, assessments, and ideas.
This course requires that adult students work together to tackle an instructional design problem and subsequently create an instructional product for a real-world client. Authentic learning at its finest! And a chance to to apply my learning about instructional design in a real-world setting!
But this excitement was tempered with a niggling worry that this was going to be a slug of a course (just trying to be honest here, folks!).
To kick start the project, our group of four met one Saturday afternoon at the College of Education to develop a plan. We were fortunate that each group member was close enough to Saskatoon to have this chance to meet face-to-face as much of the ETAD program takes place within an online learning environment.
Over coffee, conversation flowed easily as we shared stories about our graduate experiences, our work, our lives. Was the instant rapport a result of the face-to-face interaction? Was it a result of the right mix of personalities? Or was it due to the fact that our sole male group member was so accommodating to the three females?
I'm not really sure.
But whatever the reason, I knew immediately that this group project experience was going to be positive. I was eager to get started and excited to be working with others on this project.
And by the end of our meeting, had completed a number of important tasks:
Later, as our project progressed, we set an action plan for the week at each meeting, breaking up larger tasks into manageable pieces. When needed, we teamed up to work on the same task, but more often the smaller jobs were completed individually. Being that we were so distant from each other, this model worked well.
From the beginning of the project, I knew that I possessed the necessary skills to handle any one of the tasks of this project independently. Throughout the project, I realized that the team approach resulted in a much better product that I would have created on my own. This was abundantly apparent during our online conversations where we would "idea bounce" before coming to an agreement about our next step. Being part of this team was exhilarating!
Together, we were better!
During our second face-to-face meeting, we talked openly about the risks and benefits of group work. Our honest discussions helped build a sense of trust that is necessary for groups to work effectively with each other. Collaboratively, we made decisions. The outcome may have been quite different if our group members did not have equal input into decision-making or did not feel individual opinions were important.
Best of all, we created a resource for the Learning Disabilities of Saskatchewan that has proven to be useful for new employees.
This was a win! win! experience ~