by – Amy Velchoff
Project ACC was founded on the belief that Active & Engaged Learning is important, which I can affirm from my own personal learning experiences. Yet, implementing such practices in the classroom can be challenging. For my Faculty Fellows project, I wanted to work on team building in the classroom, and I chose to focus on EDUC 1301, Introduction to Teaching. This course is intended to be the first course for students who are interested in pursuing the Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT), and who are potentially going to be future teachers. In general, it is important for students to learn how to collaborate effectively, skills that will come in handy for any future profession, but it is especially important to model to these future teachers the types of pedagogies we hope that they will use in their own classrooms. As a secondary focus, I really wanted to work on implementing skits in the classroom.
Before introducing any new activities into the class, I first administered a Collaboration Self-Assessment survey (CSAT, linked below) as a pre-test. Then, for my first team-building activity, I randomly assigned the students into teams based on their teaching interests; there were 5 elementary school teams, 1 middle school team, and 1 high school team. Of course, depending on the course, team assignments could be based off of other factors. I then gave each team a set of value cards (linked below). I asked each team to sort the cards to agree upon their top 3 values, and to then use those values to write a Mission and Vision statement for their team. I hoped that this activity would help to build a sense of shared values and cohesion in the teams.
For the second team-building activity, I assigned each team a co-teaching model from the list linked below. Each team then had to use that model to act out a skit based on the Introduction to Teaching course curriculum. This exposed the students to different models of collaboratively partnering with others, which will also come into handy in their future careers.
The students had several other skit-based activities throughout the semester that required them to work collaboratively with their teams. For brevity, I will not have a chance to mention them here. At the end of the semester, I administered the CSAT again as a post-test. In addition, for a control measure, I observed another section of the course that did not use any of the skits or collaborative activities discussed above to see if there were any noticeable differences between the two sections. I am still analyzing the results, but visually, the atmospheres in the two classrooms were very different! The group that received the PACC interventions was much more interactive and engaged with one another.
I am excited to repeat this process with one of my summer sections of EDUC 1300, Effective Learning, to see how the activities translate to use in a different course.
Collaboration Self-Assessment: https://www.stcloudstate.edu/oce/_files/documents/coteaching/CollaborationtoolCSAT.pdf