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An educational company providing resources for teachers, therapists, and other support staff focusing on collaboration and intervention strategies for preschool and school age students.

Collaboration and the Four Big Questions to Ask Yourself

Staff Chat

Brief, informative lessons to share with staff and students.

Collaboration and the Four Big Questions to Ask Yourself

Debra Em

When you think of collaboration, would you rather have a colonoscopy than attend a meeting where collaboration is mandated? Are you good with having a collaboroscopy every five years whether you need one or not? This blog may be right up your alley (if you get my gist).

As collaboration becomes the holy grail of excellence in education, the calls and emails I receive highlight the challenges of sorting through education mandates, various intervention frameworks, and a host of bureaucratic processes. Teachers and support staff, wanting to hitch their wagons to best practice collaboration protocol find it difficult to travel through the rocky terrain, prickly brush, and many obstacles that make the journey frustrating and tiring.

But alas, there is hope for those on the collaboration wagon. Though, as one therapist workshop attendee aptly put it, “Every school is like a snowflake, different with no two being alike.” How is it that we are to create a framework that fits all when there is no “all” that is the same?

Creating a one-size-fits-all framework has been my greatest challenge with designing an implementation framework for S’cool Moves. Having completed my doctorate research studies focusing on eighteen super-collaborator-teams, I used a process called Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) to dig deep and discover the attributes for successful collaboration. In order to create a framework, it is important to understand the deeper reasons why collaboration is working or not working.

Here are four questions to ask when wanting to uncover the deeper layers and begin to create systems that support collaboration:

Question 1: On the surface, what is collaboration like for your staff? How would you describe it in general terms? If there was a news headline, what would it say?

Question 2: What systems are in place that support or limit your collaboration efforts?

Question 3: What assumptions, perceptions, or personal worldviews do you and other staff members bring to your collaborative practice?

Question 4: What myth, metaphor, or story could you use to describe your collaboration experiences?

Once these questions are answered, you’ll see how different staff members’ responses need to be considered in order to create a framework that captures the intentions, interests, goals, and perspectives of all those involved.

At my workshops, when the groups work with these questions and share their responses, they begin to understand that there are so many different answers to the questions between members of one group and between groups as a whole.

This clarifying activity helps us to see that one-size-fits-all will not work and there isn’t one framework that will meet the needs and capture the flight pattern of all the collaborative snowflakes the make up our groups.

Using CLA is like having a road map that outlines your collaborative journey and points out the potential rocky terrain, prickly brush, and many obstacles prior to hitching your wagon.

Unlike a colonoscopy, collaboration can actually be a pleasant experience once the sedation wears off and you figure out which end is up.

Let me know if you answered these four questions with a group or personally, with yourself. I’d love to hear your responses.