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What is Equitable Collaboration?

Equitable Collaboration is a new way of thinking about the conditions and experiences that are required to create community, clarity, and competence. As opposed to the more traditional notion of “a group of people working together to accomplish a goal,” equitable collaboration occurs when all members of a learning ecosystem (or group) participate and benefit from their participation in the culture.


When collaboration is equitable, each person’s social, emotional, and intellectual development set the context for stretching the entire group to grow within a “risky” zone of learning (NSRF, 2018) that engages everyone.


One cannot understand equitable collaboration by reading or studying, it must be experienced, and reflected upon to sink in.


Participant's understanding will be deepened when they reflect on visual representations of the level of equitable collaboration within their own experiences in the session.

The foundation of equitable collaboration is conceptual clarity and alignment among critical stakeholders around a shared vision of educational success and the learning models that must be in place to achieve that success.


But, it is very challenging to establish alignment when the most subversive tensions between existing learning models are not talked about. Chief among these is a tension between the extrinsic behaviorism of most grading, badging, data-driven personalized learning systems, discipline/positive behavior support and intervention models, and the intrinsically-oriented, community-building, dialogue-based, holistic, and capacity-building strategies we are advocating. Assemblies, pep rallies, multi-cultural nights, and “school-wide behavioral reward celebrations” may appear to add up to a strong and positive climate, but they are really more like sugar pills - instantaneously satisfying and desirable but quickly dissipating and ultimately detrimental to a healthy school climate.


Without an open, public dialogue about the assumptions behind these behaviorist models, it will be difficult for many stakeholders even to notice this tension, much less resolve it.


Talking about and resolving the above-mentioned tension is a challenging but necessary step toward "aligning the vectors" (to quote Elon Musk) of learning models with a clear and shared vision of student success.


This work elevates educators to be the professionals that they are by placing the learner at the center. Once this is done, pressure will no longer fall on teachers to squeeze the square pegs of a student-centered and collaborative learning into the round prison of behaviorism.

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