By Ms.Neetu Luthra, Global Schools Advocate in India
“Collaboration allows teachers to capture each other's fund of collective intelligence" - Mike Schmoker.
I am indebted to Madam Principal Ms.Alka Kapur for providing the institution to work on Sustainable Development Goals and incorporate them with Education.
I believe that strong partnerships are grounded in common values and goals, mutual respect and trust, and the experience, sensibilities, and knowledge that each partner brings to the table. They are hard work. It takes a commitment of energy and time to listen, learn, and be present in the other's sphere of work. It takes sharing successes and owning missteps, openness to the new, and a willingness to challenge and be challenged.
I feel that planned activities allow students to work and collaborate to learn and grow from each other. Collaborative learning has been shown to not only develop higher-level thinking skills in students but boost their confidence and self-esteem as well. Partnership and collaboration can alleviate operations or even programmatic expenses because it balances out the costs between both organizations. This might include training, shared workspace, workshops, transportation, or anything else related to the mission.
Collaboration is a great term, but I prefer the word partnering. Collaboration sounds like working with others, while partnering sounds like a long-term investment in a relationship that is mutually beneficial to all.
Our work environments are becoming more collaborative each day and are constantly extending to new parts of the world. The days of working in jobs as isolated cubicle inhabitants are rapidly disappearing. Companies can train people on technical skills but want people who come prepared to partner.
Partnering also provides all of us with opportunities to continually learn and improve. We all need mentors, especially young people, students. We meet our mentors and guides through projects and partnerships. We also solve problems through partnering. The more we collaborate, the more likely we are to address the global challenges – i.e., climate, food, employment, health and wellness, and so much more. It's reciprocal. When we partner, we solve problems. When we work to solve problems, we create opportunities for work and learning. If we want educational experiences and lifelong learning to be both experiential and relevant, partnering is the vehicle.
Our challenge as educators is whether we walk the walk. We ask our students to collaborate or partner, but do we truly do it ourselves? How can educators model true collaboration and partnering with our students?
Implementing ESD Projects Through Partnerships and Collaborations
As a Global Schools Advocate, I had the opportunity to broaden my experience in partnerships and collaborations, and I'm more than happy to share some examples of how to take this into action through different projects and opportunities. My fellow teachers, students, and I worked on a project titled Project Umeed, highlighting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 –Quality Education. I prepared the curriculum for it, focusing on the needs of the Less privileged sections of society. I collaborated with the workers of the school and explained to them the importance of Education. They readily agreed, and they started attending the classes. The curriculum was designed in such a way that catered to the needs of the children. We targeted about 100 children for this project. English conversation, Mathematics tricks, arts and crafts, Science experiments, and the celebration of festivals were some of the highlights of the project. The children were given special certificates for their extra efforts as a token of appreciation and recognition.
Furthermore, in an endeavor to spread literacy and give wings of imagination, I contacted the Government school to collaborate for the distribution of books. They welcomed us with open arms, and the students felt elated to receive the books.
On World Mathematics Day, we organized a Tangrams activity in a Government school where our students taught them. We took sheets and other required stationery. They had a great learning experience, and we were satisfied to teach them a new activity.
After experiencing these projects and the success of them, I understood that collaboration grows with stepping stones for others to flourish with you. It takes meticulous planning, designing tasks, and providing the best to the partner.
It provides handholding which leads to successful collaboration.
Another successful event that I want to highlight was organized on Climate change titled Pran Se Parivartan, wherein the students of other schools were invited through our collaborative efforts. Different school students showcased their projects, and we exhibited our Eco-friendly products. We were able to bring the essence of collaborative work seamlessly and promote some of the SDGs, like SDG12, responsible consumption and production, and SDG13, climate action.
Additionally, we didn’t limit ourselves to the national level. International engagements have also been to their brim. We carried out video conferencing with countries such as Finland, Malaysia, and China and discussed climate change and other related issues.
Our students have been selected as the Youth Ambassador under IBO and have been selected as Indian candidates for the Youth Forum Switzerland. Showing students that we can collaborate internationally was a key highlight because it helped them to connect globally, which further added to acquaint them with the cultural aspect and to discuss on climate change of the country.
Lastly, its least to mention that the Global Schools Program (GSP) allowed me to become the speaker at the side event of the ECOSOC summit, wherein the point of discussion revolved around Collaboration and Partnership. We all gave a unanimous voice to maintain trust in partnerships.
I felt overwhelmed partnering with the students, the school community, and different schools. It made me feel genuine in the partnerships when everyone was doing things with a common interest.
As educators, let's commit to walking the walk and carrying a large collaboration (partnering) stick. We all have the tools, and we need to be the mentors, leaders, and partners our students deserve when it comes to learning what collaboration looks like and how valuable it can be.
In a nutshell, I want to conclude with this quote by Herbert Spencer, "The great aim of education is not knowledge but action."