01 April 2013

As a member of your KidsMatter Leadership Team, you share in the collaborative responsibility of implementing KidsMatter within your ECEC service. And you have already started—by forming your Leadership Team!

At ‘Getting Started’ you continued developing an understanding of each other—your skills, expertise, areas of interest and the way you work with other people. This type of collaboration will help you implement KidsMatter successfully and be an example for others in your ECEC service.

In this post, we're talking about collaborating with all the educators who work in your team. Along the way there will be questions, challenges, opportunities to learn from each other, and to relate and work in a more collaborative way. A deeper understanding of collaboration might assist in exploring what’s already happening in your service and how you might engage your team.

Collaboration within your ECEC service is in two sections—this post, Part 1, focuses on understanding collaboration within your own team, while Part 2 looks at supporting collaborative practice.

A quick note: as you make your way through KidsMatter, you will also collaborate with children, families and the broader community using similar principles to those you use in collaborating with your team.

What is collaboration?

We’ve heard the term collaboration a lot recently. Both the NQS and EYLF use it to describe best practice in working with other educators, families and the community.

Collaboration is a particular way of working with others in order to reach a common goal. It is often considered a process which lies on a continuum, including elements such as:

  • working together to accomplish a common mission /project/task
  • giving people an opportunity to equally contribute, problem-solve and cooperate
  • hearing a range of perspectives
  • shared responsibility, resources and decision making
  • searching for solutions that go beyond one person’s idea
  • developing trust and respect
  • creating a sense of community. (Friend and Cook, 1992)

Using the right terms

Often the terms participation, cooperation and collaboration are confused and used interchangeably; however, they are quite different in terms of purpose and goal.

Participation is … needed for collaboration to work, but does not necessarily mean collaboration is occurring. Participation can invite involvement of others and welcome the contribution of their ideas, but if making decisions and taking action remains the authority of another, collaboration has not yet been reached.

Cooperation is… an essential feature of how we collaborate. If our work demonstrates only cooperation, we haven’t yet reached the place of collaboration. Cooperation stresses the end process or achievement of working together.

Collaboration is… the process we’ve gone through to generate new ideas and solutions from the combination of expertise, perspectives, experience and knowledge of the members of a group, which result in a new way of working, through self and/or group discovery.

Collaboration in your team

How might your team’s past experiences of collaboration influence your engagement with KidsMatter?

All teams work in different ways—the way a team communicates and the task at hand can both influence collaboration. Different types of communication within teams might be identified as:

  • Informing—this is a one-way flow of communication; a top-down approach.
  • Involving—an invitation to participation, but the agenda is predetermined.
  • Engaging—presents as an opportunity for all parties to create the agenda, make decisions and take actions. This is cooperation.
  • Leading—occurs when there is full engagement with all parties taking leadership roles as they work towards a shared vision. This is full collaboration.

What happens in many workplaces is a combination of approaches. Sometimes a decision or process might require one style more so than another—for example, when new information is shared—and other times they require ‘all hands on deck’, where everyone is actively contributing. This can be helpful to remember as you implement KidsMatter.

As Leadership Team members, you have the opportunity to reflect on collaboration within your team and the potential to influence future collaboration in your ECEC service community.

 

Reference

Friend, M., & Cook, L. (1992). Interactions: Collaboration skills for school professionals. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Reflective Questions

  • What collaborative working skills do you bring to your KidsMatter Leadership Team?
  • How do you think other educators in your team would describe their experience of collaboration in your ECEC service? What examples might they give?
  • How does your service mainly communicate: in an informing, involving, engaging or leading style?
  • How might this influence team members’ experiences of collaboration?
  • What does your service need in order to move further along the ‘continuum of collaboration’? What part of this can your KidsMatter Leadership Team take responsibility for, demonstrate and action? 

Is there anything you need from your Facilitator?

You can call, email or arrange a video conference with your Facilitator, or get in touch on our Facebook page.

More information

Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth. (2009). What is collaboration. Retrieved from www.workforce.org.au/media/59204/resourcing_collaboration_what_is_collaboration_factsheet1.pdf

Lee, H. (n.d.) Collaboration: A must for teachers in inclusive educational settings. South Orange, NJ: Seton Hall University. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/infoBriefs_local/shure/collaboration.pdf

 

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Understanding collaboration