Exploring collaboration

My Year 10 Vocational Preparation class are currently learning about the importance of enterprise skills as we work towards starting our own social enterprise. We have looked at a couple of case studies to better understand the nature of a social enterprise, the values that drive them and the key skills and dispositions that are required to be successful in business. The students were particularly hooked in by a street wear brand called HoMie, which supports young people affected by homelessness in Melbourne.

During our lesson on Monday this week, the focus was on one important enterprise skill – collaboration. Students engaged in a range of collaborative challenges and reflected on how they “showed up” for this learning experience. They acknowledged that successful collaboration requires effective communication to make decisions, resolve conflict and solve problems. They highlighted that the success of the team relies upon all team members contributing equally to the outcome. They also spoke about the importance of the outcome reflecting the skills and contributions of each team member. Indeed, learning to collaborate is one of many skills that should be central to an education fit for the world beyond our College’s gates.

I felt an immense feeling of pride watching these Year 10 students navigate the challenges presented to them in this lesson. One group surprised me by how quiet and focussed they were on accomplishing the task of “travelling by pontoon” across the length of the gymnasium.  Here I witnessed examples of leadership and teamwork that I had not previously seen within the four walls of our classroom. The other group adopted an entirely different approach and made a number of false starts – placing the pontoon too far away, rushing and stepping off the pontoon. This required them to restart, providing an opportunity to learn from their previous mistakes. What impressed me was that with each set back, the students started again, determined to bounce back and achieve success. Irrespective of which group accomplished the task the quickest, both groups worked together to achieve their goal.

This pontoon challenge is perhaps a metaphor for what learning looks like in classrooms. Some students move ahead with relative ease and speed but find it harder when they make a mistake to get back-on-track. Other students may make many mistakes along the way, but in doing so they have a richer understanding of what works (and what doesn’t). But what I hope these students take away from this learning is the understanding that when they work together and draw on the strengths of others, they will be able to accomplish more than if they had worked alone. Together, we arrive at better solutions.


Mrs Catherine Spurritt

Deputy Principal – Learning & Teaching