Collaborative Learning: The Art of Letting Go

by Allen Fowler

at desk 03I worried the most about the one table, four students – two with cognitive challenges, three with notable social anxiety, all marginalized for one reason or another in their experience of school. Mastering my anxiety when turning over control to students doesn’t come naturally to me.  And they were going to be working as group for the next three days of Signal Success career readiness training. By the end of the first day, however, I started to let go of my concerns. By the end of the third day, after fifteen hours of working around the table together, these youth showed me flashes of collaborative brilliance.  In reporting out, they respectfully offered those needing it a bit more time to articulate their thoughts, one youth visibly softened his demeanor as he stepped into a leadership role during a negotiation exercise, and, at one point or another, all four smiled at having an idea taken down, a suggestion implemented, or a contribution acknowledged.  Collaborative learning provides the space for real time development of the soft-skills essential to success in school, work, and life.  Here are some tips around letting go and capturing the results:

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