Chapter 1: Becoming One – Together: The Visible and Non-Visible Nature of Collaboration in Education

Much of my history as a teacher educator has included significant experiences with various types of collaboration. In this chapter I want to weave anecdotes from my experience into a narrative that explores important questions around this topic – questions that on one hand go beneath the surface to examine the largely non-visible understandings and assumptions essential to collaboration as a concept, and on the other hand, to reveal the visible scope and possibility of collaborative approaches in practice. Unifying these aspects will be the larger intention and theme of collaboration as co-creation, of diversity and uniqueness within unity – “becoming one, together.” Questions to be addressed around the non-visible aspects of collaboration include

What is the world view that is implicitly affirmed or suggested by today’s call for collaboration?

What hidden understandings and assumptions can be articulated and incorporated into the collaborative process?

What integrative models of curriculum are most applicable to collaborative approaches?

How do trans-disciplinary efforts support a collaborative model of research?

A final section of the chapter will share some practical lessons learned from my experience in the collaborative process and how mindful collaboration in education can lead to increased self-discovery and transformation.

Chapter 2: Teaching from the Original Worldview

I write this with my own theoretical presumption that there are only two worldviews. I call the one we used for 99% of our time on the planet an “Indigenous worldview.” Most of the variety of cultures had it in common. Then came the “dominant worldview.” Except for some outliers here and there in one arena or another, most of our world is guided by it today. It probably originated around 9000 years ago when hierarchy came into fashion after some enterprising people abandoned millions of years of Nature-based societies when they realized an agricultural surplus during a draught brought them unimaginable power. Then verb-oriented language families, no longer rooted in the flux and flow of landscape morphed into noun-based ones better suited for categorizing, reducing and objectifying things. Dominant worldview created some amazing technologies during its short history. It also has helped destroy most life systems on Earth.

How can educators use the dominator language and at the same time begin to re-embrace our original worldview? Is it possible to focus again on the natural world and the place in which we live? Can we resume value systems of generosity, honesty and oneness and incorporate them into the classroom?

I would like to offer my personal reflections on why I believe we can…..

Chapter 3: Reflections on Collaboration: Perspectives and Practices

Given the title of this book, it seemed that not only should the voice of the ‘teacher[1] educator’ be heard, but also the voice of the ‘teacher candidate’ or ‘aspirational teacher’. As such, this chapter was initiated by Dr. Rupert Collister[2] as a dialogue or ‘collaborative conversation’[3] between himself and three of his ex-students, teacher candidates Diana Bailey, Brittany Eliuk, and Christina Miladinovic. These teacher candidates were all enrolled in the combined Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education programme at the University of Winnipeg at the time of writing. In order to maintain the integrity of the ‘collaborative conversation’ concept, we have kept the conversational format of the dialogue as much as possible, although a certain amount of post-dialogue editing has taken place in order to maintain the flow of the narrative. We hope that this provides you, the reader, with the best of both worlds and brings you into our conversation. Feel free to contact us, to join the conversation.

Chapter 4: University-Community Partnerships: Reflections on an 18-year Community-based Education Collaboration

Collaboration is hard work! It is not easy for people from one organization to collaborate with those from another. Even when people trust and respect each other and agree that they can have a broader impact by working together, it is still difficult. Collaborators need to take the time to invest in building trust amongst themselves, and not take it for granted. Sometimes issues will emerge because of constraints on the participating organizations, the structure of the collaboration, or expectations that are not realistic for the collaborative effort even when the collaborators know each other well. This chapter focuses on an18-year community education collaboration between the University of Missouri Extension Department and The Imani Family Centre located in the City of Jennings, North St. Louis County, Missouri. This collaboration is explored using the personal support process of the Circles of Hope. The personal support process is a series of three questions used during a circle to help people evaluate how things are going and to reflect on how things could be different. The questions were: 1) What went well in our work together? 2) What was challenging about our work together? 3) What would we do differently if we had it to do over again?

Chapter 5: Igniting Hope in At Risk Youth: A Collaborative Undertaking

Both teachers and administrators struggle with how to manage “high-risk” youth in educational settings. Strategies and policies are often developed that find teachers and students in a battle of wills for survival in the classroom. With little imagination for resolving this disconnection, teachers and administrators find themselves at a loss to effectively respond to the challenges that a defiant student may display in their schools. Taking a simple but transformative practice of cultivating meaningful relationships, we assembled high-risk youth into a collaborative program with pre-service teachers. The teachers gained direct experience and new insights on how to connect with troubled teenagers and to ignite or re-ignite a motivational ‘spark’.

The theoretical framework for this collaborative action research was drawn from the holistic/spiritual principals of Martin Buber’s (1958) “I and Thou.” In the context of Buber’s work, the desire to manage, mold and manipulate falls away to a more compassionate and communal way of being and caring for each other. Linking pre-service teachers with troubled youth became a way in which each group could connect to each other on a soulful level. Through collaboration with local Juvenile Courts, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the University of West Georgia College of Education, alongside other local establishments, a mentoring program was created that demonstrates a radically alternative approach to working with both at-risk youth and aspiring teachers. This article will detail the theory, practice, and outcomes of this unusual collaborative intervention for each constituency.

Chapter 6: Police as Learning Partners: A School of Education Collaboration with Police Services

A collaboration between preservice students from a faculty of education and a police service creates opportunities for police service members, university faculty members, classroom teachers and preservice teachers to collaborate, learn and share in planned and surprising ways. While implementing lessons designed by preservice teachers, police personnel and classroom teachers are invited to reflect, witness and share in the success and effectiveness of presenting topics infused with drama and literacy invitations. This article provides insights, observations and vision for collaborative projects with community police partners, challenging student teachers to see themselves as community leaders and inviting police partners to engage in action learning and research throughout the process.

Chapter 7: Collaborative Education for the Anthropocene: The Contribution of Vasily Sukhomlinsky

We live during the Anthropocene, an age when the future of our planet depends on human action. Our future, and that of all other species, depends on the characters and actions of billions of future global citizens, on our ability to co-exist with each other, to adapt to changing circumstances, and to modify our behaviour and expectations in the light of the growing burden we are placing on the natural environment.

Vasily Sukhomlinsky was the principal of a combined primary and secondary school in Pavlysh, a rural settlement in central Ukraine, from 1948 to 1970. Working in the aftermath of the Second World War, when nearly all the families in the region had suffered great trauma, he developed a holistic system of education that was grounded in a deep connection with the natural environment. Sukhomlinsky paid great attention to students’ relationships with each other, with their families, and with members of the community. Sukhomlinsky actively encouraged a sense of global citizenship, teaching his students about the lives of children in other countries, and encouraging them to reach out to those in need.

Sukhomlinsky’s influence endures in Ukraine and Russia, and in recent decades has grown remarkably in China. In a 2013 collaboration between an Australian researcher and a Ukrainian teacher training institute, an art competition was held that attracted entries from thousands of Ukrainian school students, and resulted in the publication of an illustrated English language edition of some of Sukhomlinsky’s stories for children.

Chapter 8: Collaborations in a Professional Community of Teacher Educators: A Model Writing project

Collaborative practices in education have the potential to achieve transformation in school reform, curricular innovation and teaching-learning processes to create effective professional learning communities. In this chapter, we highlight of power of collaborative writing to facilitate professional and personal growth of teacher educators in contexts that lack strong facilitative structures to assist teacher educators in building professional knowledge, practice, and a sense of identity as writers in an academic community. More specifically, the chapter describes a case study of a collaborative writing initiative, the Collaborative Writing Project (CWP), to support the position that professional development can be facilitated outside formal institutionally- organised events. This case study addressed two main questions: 1. How can collaboration be used to promote writing productivity of faculty in a higher education community? 2. What benefits can be derived from faculty collaborative writing initiatives? The chapter thus illustrates the benefits of collaborative writing in a professional community. The chapter ends by proposing an extension of the model to incorporate non-faculty members as participants in the learning community of institutions of higher education.

Chapter 9: Beyond the Buzz: Investigating a Professional Collaboration in Higher Education Teaching.

This chapter discusses the experiences of two course instructors at McGill University as they explore teacher collaboration and professional learning communities (PLC’s), while redesigning a required course on Communication in Education. Upon reflection, Carter & Smith-Gilman found that the common goal, mutual appreciation for individual perspectives and approaches, was key to this collaboration. Institutional support and sharing this experience were conditions that made this undertaking both successful for students as well as personally rewarding. By articulating both the shared practical experience of course revision and theoretically presenting collaboration in higher educational contexts through this chapter, this duo’s desire to continue working together on future undertakings has been further strengthened.

Chapter 10: Initial Teacher Education: Partnership in Practice

We believe learning to be a teacher is a complex journey, one in which we seek to guide and support our students. The journey is one where modelling and demonstration, growing mastery of skills, increasing sophistication of ideas, the ability to problematize, to know and understand the language of teaching and learning and the capacity to adapt pedagogical tools are all important and must be evident and evidenced. The school partnership is critical to our students and this programme’s success. The school contexts provide a natural extension of the university-based learning community and a setting where a shared focus on supporting students to become teachers learning from and with others is the aim. In professional experience settings, students should experience learning as a collaborative endeavour and gain insight first-hand into the collaborative nature of the teaching profession. The classroom setting is more than a place for practice – it is a community of practice . Ideally, at times of professional experience students should be engaged in several overlapping communities: – a professional experience community; their peer community; a community of lecturers; and, a broader scholarly community accessed through programme material (Yandell, 2010). Thus, Lave and Wenger’s (1991) concept of situated negotiation and renegotiation is enacted.

Chapter 11: An Examination of School Speech-Language Pathology and Collaboration

Collaborative practices literature for speech-language pathologists working in educational settings is far from robust. This paper briefly discusses the historical changes in speech-language pathology, which influence current day school practices. Today’s speech-language pathologists frequently combine various roles within school settings to meet a variety of needs and challenges. Service delivery models which speech-language pathologist employ continue to expand and evolve due to changes occurring within the field of speech-language pathology as well as from outside. The need to collaborate within the school environment has been well documented to be beneficial to students. While research has been completed within schools, the terminology as to how collaboration is defined or carried out remains unclear. Individual factors related to promoting a collaborative environment such as school support, self-advocacy, openness to change and utilizing the strengths of others are viewed as beneficial to the process. While speech-language pathologists view collaboration as beneficial, it may not always occur. Potential barriers to engaging in successful collaborative practices included reduced knowledge of speech-language pathologist’s abilities, insufficient time and support at all school levels. Additional research is needed in order to best address how school teams and speech-language pathologists can work together effectively for the benefit of all students.

Chapter 12: Enhancing Teaching and Learning through a Global Connection

Teacher educators at a university in West Virginia, US, and a University in Melbourne, Australia have designed an ongoing global collaboration for their teaching candidates. The partnership has continued to involve digital age learning that requires higher education students to communicate and collaborate across cultural and international boundaries. Using this model for global collaboration, students communicate with teacher candidates from another country, employing various interactive technologies. These tools include a diverse range of synchronous and asynchronous communication resources.

The purpose of this global collaboration is multi-faceted. One focus is to challenge the participating teacher candidates to reconstruct their established perceptions of teaching and learning in order to learn and adopt new ideas. A second focus is to incorporate 21st Century learning, to prepare students for flexible adaptation to attempt new problems and settings and to support the opportunity to transfer what they have learned to new situations, that is, to be adaptive, flexible learners. In this cooperative project the global exchange has fostered an understanding of international issues in education and provided first-hand experiences beyond the local educational environment for the teacher candidates. The collaboration has provided teacher candidates first-hand opportunities to gain confidence in using different IT media and to become familiar with online communities. It has allowed students to engage in professional discourse through the reflective strategies from a very unique and authentic experience. This interchange has been found to most beneficial for teacher candidates about to enter the teaching profession as practicing professionals.

[1] In this chapter the word ‘teacher’ will be used to inclusively to describe kindergarten or school teachers, professors, instructors, trainers, tutors, teaching assistants etc. unless another specific term is appropriate.

[2] Independent writer and researcher, and currently sessional Professor at the Ontario institute for Studies in Education/ University of Toronto, Brock University, and University of New Brunswick.

[3] For more information regarding ‘collaborative conversation’ as a research approach, see Collister (2010), for ‘collaborative conversation’ as part of the teaching and learning relationship, see Dencev and Collister (2010), and for ‘collaborative conversation’ as part of professional development experience, see Nelson (2014).