Collaboration is an important part of the work we do at Greystone and it is a skill that none of us should assume we have mastered. The word “collaboration” has been coming up time and time again over the last several weeks as I met with teachers to review their professional growth plans. During these meetings, I discovered that many of our teaching teams were focusing on collaboration as a goal for their learning this year. Through conversations we have had around the need for direct instruction, coaching, modelling and practice with our students in order for them to develop their skills in collaboration and from seeing teacher teams indicate the need for their own professional collaboration to improve, I knew we needed to deepen our understanding of what it means to be collaborative with one another.
During one of my meetings with teachers, I discovered that our Drama Teacher, Margaret Rodgers, had incredible insight into what it means to be truly collaborative. She shared the following big ideas around what collaboration means:
1. Saying yes
2. Making it safe to try new things
3. Building on each others’ ideas
I asked Marge how she knew so much about the collaborative process and she shared that her best learning around collaboration came from the drama workshops she did on improvisation…specifically, the learning she gained from Rapid Fire Theatre. I knew we needed to bring this kind of learning to our staff so that we could capitalize on the power of collaboration within our teams.
We invited the Rapid Fire Theatre to Greystone to work with our staff during our last Professional Learning Day in November. It was risky business, getting staff to try out improv, but they were amazing! They let down their guard, took risks with each other and explored the possibilities in this engaging, fun workshop.
Through various games and activities, the following collaboration skills were highlighted:
*Accepting Ideas – Saying Yes – Go positive before you go negative
*Removing Fear – Happy Failure
*Staying Within the Circle (be obvious, no need to be brilliant)
*Looking for judgment and negativity in the group – will stop collaboration
Who knew that doing improv together as a staff would not only yield a lot of fun and laughter, but that it would also strengthen our skills as collaborators?