I was having a conversation with a colleague about “real” collaboration the other day. Sometimes, we end up in situations where the goal is collaboration, but where the parties themselves just aren’t “into it.” The collaboration ends up appearing false, and it is clear that if the initiative succeeds it will likely be in spite of, rather than because of, the collaboration itself.
I’ve been involved in those types of situations, certainly, but I’ve also played a role in truly wonderful collaborative opportunities. Let me share a bit about one that I’m working on today.
Over the last three years, a number of BOCES across New York State (New York’s version of regional education service agencies, or RESAs) have participated in a blended learning initiative, with the goal being to bring in expertise that we couldn’t easily afford ourselves.
The structure is really unique, with partnerships with national and state-level organizations (like ASCD and NYSASCD) and on-site facilitators leading the work at each site. Our work is always based around a text that ties in to initiatives across our state (this year we’re focusing on McREL’s Balanced Leadership for Powerful Learning framework), and our planning is done virtually, with facilitators from the sites developing facilitation moves and explorations to engage in during the day.
What I’ve learned through this work is that true collaboration requires an investment from all parties, and a deep-held need for the work to succeed (or come as close to success as possible). If all parties aren’t invested and don’t truly “care” about the work, then the collaboration will not be a true one.
I’m excited to see the fruits of this year’s partnership, and later, reflect on what worked and what didn’t, as we consider collaborative work in the future.