02 April 2013

Collaboration can occur in a number of ways, depending on your goals. It generates new ideas through sharing perspectives, experience and knowledge. Collaboration can help us to improve practice and overcome challenges—it’s about how we work together to get the best results!

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

A good place to start thinking about collaboration in your ECEC service is to reflect on the following questions:

  • What does your whole team think about being involved with KidsMatter?
  • What are your thoughts about gauging their responses?
  • What strategies might you put in place to ensure their voices are heard?

What supports collaboration?

Collaboration is more than just a willingness by one person to work collaboratively with another. Collaboration requires a personal and service-wide commitment.

How individuals collaborate can be influenced by their:

  • social skills and maturity
  • understanding and respect of others' contributions
  • confidence in understanding and recognising boundaries
  • ability to share knowledge, values, responsibility and visions
  • trust in relationships
  • participation in planning and decision making
  • understanding and acceptance of interdependency
  • commitment to learning.

Environmental factors—such as the culture of a workplace—also influence collaboration. (You might like to read our post on Contemplating culture for more about this).

A collaborative environment is encouraged by: 

  • the ability to act autonomously and make decisions (within the scope of a person’s role)
  • a climate where everyone can speak up
  • recognition of the group’s effort
  • opportunities for both informal and formal participation.

There are many benefits in working collaboratively, including: 

  • enhancing personal and professional development
  • developing a range of skills to support learning and performance
  • supporting mental health and wellbeing
  • sharing skills, knowledge, and responsibilities
  • generating new ideas
  • consolidating a shared philosophy
  • positive outcomes for children and families
  • promoting a sense of value and satisfaction in your role.

As a Leadership Team, you already know that not all educators work together in the same way. Some educators may be really keen to take on any extra responsibility, while others may be more reluctant. Balancing these differences may be a challenge for your Leadership Team as you promote a culture of collaboration while implementing KidsMatter.

Have you considered…?

Having differing approaches to collaboration means educators with different participatory styles can feel included and valued.  Remember, effective collaboration doesn’t necessarily require all educators to be present at the same time. This is helpful to know when thinking about implementing KidsMatter and balancing time and staffing constraints.

Here are a few ideas about different models of collaboration (from Callahan, Schenk & White)

Team collaboration is often around a project with clearly defined roles and tasks, where participants work at an equal level. For example, you might like to consider Component 1 and educators could work as a small group, in discussing an achievable goal for each Target Area.

Community collaboration is often sharing a topic of interest, where the focus is on learning and sharing information. For example, you might highlight a topic of interest at your service and get together to share resources on the topic.

Network collaboration is sharing information and knowledge between individuals by using technology such as social media and other tools that help us to interact online. For example, you might like to share a strategy you have used to welcome families at your ECEC service on the KidsMatter facebook page.

Reflective Questions

  • Think about your ECEC service: what’s happening for your educators? What would an observer say about the way that educators contribute to staff meetings, team planning and major decisions?
  • How is the current culture and management structure in your team supporting collaborative practice?
  • What are the barriers to working collaboratively in your team? What is one change that may make a significant impact on this? How could the KidsMatter Leadership Team work towards this? In what ways could your Leadership Team involve your whole service in this process? 

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

Friend, M. (2008) Special education: Contemporary perspectives for school professionals (2nd Ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Sample Chapter 4: Creating Partnerships through Collaboration, Boston, MA: Pearson. Retrieved from www.ablongman.com/html/productinfo/friend2e_MLS/0205505317ch04.pdf

Early Childhood Australia (2012) National Quality Standard Professional Learning Program: Learning Circles Worksheet. Retrieved from www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/nqsplp/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Worksheet_learning-circles.pdf

Download a printable version of this post:

Supporting collaborative practice