Seeing students work together and communicate with one another is one of the biggest goals for every educator. Having open conversations and expressing their opinions helps teachers understand how students feel and their critical thinking. So, as a result, many teachers encourage a collaborative learning environment to help empower students to live and thrive in the real world.
There are many ways to create a collaborative learning environment, such as creating mixed study groups and encouraging differing viewpoints. However, how does a teacher incorporate collaborative learning? Even more so, how do teachers help students feel comfortable enough to learn in a communal space? It’s simply by setting expectations for every student while explaining the process clearly and concisely.
What Is Collaborative Learning?
Simply put, collaborative learning is the educational approach by using groups to encourage and grow good learning habits while having students learn together. It often helps students understand how to communicate efficiently and assists them in transitioning into the real world. It consists of two or more learners working together to solve a problem, learning new material and concepts, and combining critical thinking to complete tasks.
Incorporating collaborative learning helps learners become more actively engaged in their learning material, teaching them to process information and concepts. If there is an assigned group project, learners learn to work together, teaching them to collaborate as a group to understand concepts presented to them. It further assists their understanding in learning together versus focusing on their own ideas and opinions.
One of the first notable ways to create a collaborative learning environment is to encourage listening and compromising. Learning to work together is always a struggle initially but giving students time and patience to understand one another creates more profound respect for encouraging differing ideas and concepts. Additionally, educators need to maintain respect from their students and listen to their students' voices and opinions.
As students learn to put down personal barriers, they learn to become more open to other ideas, listen to every viewpoint and consideration, and have the willingness to compromise so they can reach a mutual conclusion. From there, students become more patient and understanding, separating emotional thought from logical and critical thinking.
Sharing Your Authority
In a traditional classroom, teachers often oversee everything, from assigning roles and tasks to every aspect of the learning material. However, by allowing students to share classroom responsibilities and have their authority, they become more likely to take on more complex projects while teaching them to step up to take on independence. As such, collaborative learning encourages students to decide on their own goals through the material that’s being taught.
Collaborative learning allows students to feel comfortable suggesting activities or assignments that suit their interests. As they learn to listen to others, they start to treat differing opinions with respect and patience, rather than strictly being one way or the other.
Learn From One Another
The common thought from the standard teaching format is a teacher instructing a student. From there, it’s where a student mainly obtains their knowledge and the material they learn. However, as time goes on, learning new things has flipped. In a collaborative environment, teachers and students share their knowledge to encourage further, deeper learning. Teachers still maintain the essential learning material, but as everyone shares their views and relates to them, it creates a secondary layer of understanding.
Interestingly, there is an equal emphasis on cultivating personal experiences and culture and establishing students' knowledge. Seeing the learned subject from another angle might help a confused student understand better and see it in a completely new way.
Create Mixed Learning Groups
As a teacher creates new learning groups for assigned projects, it’s often randomized and through alphabetical order. This has been a standard in almost every educational facility to create groups without much conflict. However, as classrooms grow and diversify, students need to learn about the people they work with and expand their relatability to one another. As a result, teachers have begun to create mixed learning groups from different backgrounds and cultures.
The mixed learning group approach takes more time, allowing the classroom to learn even more than their learning material. It’s essential to acknowledge the contribution of every student in learning groups and to show appreciation.
Online Learning Students
As technology becomes more accessible to schools and students, online learning has become more relevant than ever. Many students have taken the step to take on remote learning, creating a flexible learning environment. However, the remote learning approach tends to neglect genuine human connection and quality time in person. So, it’s essential to have collaborative learning during class time.
Secondly, it can apply to their time outside of their education. As a student is assigned a crucial classroom assignment, they must communicate their concerns and opinions. Having a lack of face-to-face further affects their learning and understanding of important classroom material.
Offer Flexible Learning
With the integration of in-person and remote learning, students all work differently. Not one student is the same, so enabling self-directed learning helps foster growth and maximizes efficiency. If you set specific standards for each student, they’ll have more control over their schedules and finish their projects at their own pace. Depending on their lives in and outside of school, fitting their schoolwork in with their lives is vital.
As such, self-directed learning also encourages teamwork. Consider creating study groups with students who share similar thinking and lifestyles so they can work together. They’ll naturally encourage learning with similar backgrounds and have a genuine understanding of one another while balancing respect and authority in helping one another.
Reward Hard Work
While the classroom is working hard and spending their time learning, rewarding students for their efforts is essential for keeping their motivation high. Students often feel burnt out after taking major tests or finishing a large project. So, take the time to reward students with a movie day or play games to help them prepare for the next learning course.
If you want to give them physical rewards, offer extra credit opportunities for those who have fallen behind. They’ll feel thankful and have a higher respect for the classroom while feeling encouraged to work harder.
Creating a collaborative learning environment also includes having optimal classroom seating solutions. Martin Public Seating can help transform your classroom into an innovative and forward-thinking environment for every student and teacher. No matter the location, our seating solutions provide a wonderful addition to any learning space.