Question Five: How do I collaborate to benefit my students?

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills the leading advocacy organization infusing 21st century skills into education identified "Communication and Collaboration" as a subset of Learning and Innovation Skills, the essential skills needed by students for increasingly complex life and work environments. As a teacher for all students, you are also working in an increasingly complex teaching and learning environment in the 21st Century. Collaboration is not just an essential area for preparing students for the future, but today it is also an essential area for teachers in order to provide quality educational services to students with disabilities. We can contribute to improved student success through engaging in a variety of collaborative activities with our colleagues and other team members.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a leading advocacy organization for integrating 21st Century skills into education, identified collaboration as an essential skill needed by students today because of the increasing complexity of the world. As a teacher with a range of students in your classroom, you also work in a complex teaching and learning environment. Collaboration is an essential skill for helping you provide quality educational services to students who have disabilities.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides the following four knowledge areas and skills in defining collaboration:

  • Articulating thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively through speaking and writing
  • Demonstrating ability to work effectively with diverse teams
  • Exercising flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assuming shared responsibility for collaborative work

These four areas provide a framework for examining collaboration in the context of teaching students who have disabilities. The responses to the questions below will assist you in learning more specifically how to collaborate with your colleagues to benefit students who have disabilities as well as other students in your classroom.