By John Pederson
This past week the TriState PLP group was introduced to “The Project”. One important design principal in the PLP experience is that details of “The Project” are held back until a few months into the process. This intentionally causes a bit of angst. Teachers’ daily lives involve ensuring structure in teaching and learning. PLP feels a bit “fuzzy” for teachers during the first few months as important groundwork is laid leading up to the culminating experience.
The expectation of “The Project” is that it becomes a truly collaborative effort among participants. The term “collaboration” is too often thrown around loosely to describe what is more often coordination or cooperation. Their are times where simply coordinating or cooperating are all you need to achieve a particular objective. Planning a birthday party requires a bit of coordination. Running a local food shelf is an example where cooperation between individuals/organizations is necessary. Collaboration goes another step further. Blogger David Pollard helped me frame the subtle lines between coordination, cooperation, and collaboration in his 2005 post “Will that be coordination, cooperation, or collaboration?”
Collaboration entails finding the right group of people (skills, personalities, knowledge, work-styles, and chemistry), ensuring they share commitment to the collaboration task at hand, and providing them with an environment, tools, knowledge, training, process and facilitation to ensure they work together effectively.
Key to the PLP experience is developing community. Participants need time prior to “getting to work” defining their projects and how they’ll go about achieving objectives. The process from here on out gets a bit more structured with the intention that groups go beyond simply coordinating activities and/or cooperating with each other. We’ll drive towards true collaboration. This will be a process that draws on participants complementary and diverse skills, passions, and experiences. Success requires a substantial commitment on the participants part to create something meaningful. I like to think of it as an improvisational musical experience where musicians bring their talent as audience brings attention. More co-creation than recitation.
I look forward to our experiences ahead.