Developing a Collaborative Classroom


Enhancing Collaboration in the Classroom

Why Collaborate in the Classroom?

The modern classroom is a fluid space where learning happens in many ways. Teaching methods have adapted to students’ wide range of needs, and education is no longer viewed as the teacher transmitting knowledge to the students. While students still learn from the information they are given, they also learn and grow through interaction with their peers. As a teacher, encouraging collaboration in your classroom can help your students with critical thinking and interpersonal skills development as they work together to complete the tasks they’ve been given.

Depending on the subject matter you’re teaching and the age of your students, there are myriad ways for them to work together productively. Plus, group work is a great chance for students to move, and it can disrupt the boredom of the traditional classroom. Collaboration’s many benefits don’t happen without some prep–it’s up to you to cultivate an environment where students are equipped to work together. Here are just a few ways to set the scene for fruitful collaboration and make sure students have fun while learning.


Tips for Successful Collaboration
Set Expectations Together

Planning for classroom collaboration can be a collaborative exercise too! Working as a classroom, draft a set of agreements for group work. This can include guidelines for responding to others, roles that each group member will play, and what to do if collaboration wanders off track. Each student can design their own chart for reference, or the class can work together on a wall poster for easy reference. 

Practice Essential Skills

Before jumping into group work, it’s worth taking the time to build the skills for successful collaboration. Listening is one of the key factors for fulfilling group work, so remind your students of the basics they should follow—don’t interrupt others, make eye contact, and express empathy. Asking good questions will also help students dive into robust conversation with each other. Consider providing the class with sample open-ended questions that will drive discussion instead of closing it down.

Provide Clear Objectives

If your goals for group work aren’t clearly defined, your students might end up whispering “what are we supposed to be doing?” to each other. Avoid the confusion by giving everyone clear guidelines and goals. Each activity should have a time limit, enough that everyone can finish, but not so long that students grow restless waiting for other groups to finish. 

Provide Resources

You can amplify the results of student collaboration by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Whether you give students Nexus tablet whiteboards for team notetaking, reference materials for learning, or craft supplies for team creativity, you’re setting them up to succeed. 

Plan Your Groups

No one is attuned to the dynamics of your classroom like you are, and it’s important to keep social factors in mind when you’re putting teams together. Working on a project together could help students who dislike each other find common ground–but it could also set the stage for conflict. Make sure your groups are well-balanced, and include a range of backgrounds and aptitudes. 

Show the Power of Teamwork

If a student works on challenging material alone, they might struggle, but in a team environment, they can pair their own skills with those of their team members. You might hesitate to assign difficult work to student teams, but once they realize how collaboration amplifies their individual efforts, you’ll be surprised at how much they can accomplish.

Adapt to Neurodiversity

Group work can be empowering–but it can also be overwhelming for neurodivergent learners. Autistic students might feel frustrated by the social demands of their group, while those with ADHD may grow bored and restless. Rotate the types of activities and challenges you incorporate into group work so that every student has a chance to lean into their strengths.

Celebrate Achievement

When your students work together to achieve new things, it deserves to be praised. Recognize contributions from your students and reward them for their collaborative efforts. The next time you launch into group work, you can be sure students will be open and excited.


Make Group Work Work For You

There are so many ways you can use collaborative learning to further educational outcomes and deepen student connections. Combining a little guidance in the right direction and Nexus collaboration whiteboards, your students can uncover new knowledge and make friends while doing it. You may be surprised by the new insights that emerge from student groups–and they might be surprised when they start looking forward to school. 


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