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Sparking collaborative ideas during Covid-19

First-time visitors to our school are often intrigued by the seemingly endless stretch of whiteboards in our classrooms.

Our students and staff continuously use them to solve problems as well as share and discuss ideas. There are also seating “pods”, which foster an atmosphere buzzing with engaged, collaborative learning and independent thinking.

Student Radyah noted: “Collaboration is such a big part of our school’s success. We always get the chance to work together to solve problems in team projects.” Classmate Abdullah agreed: “Collaboration is one of the many things that is outstanding about KCLMS. Discussing approaches to problems enables everyone to develop their understanding through practice.”

During lockdown, our students missed these outlets of collaboration. Being part of collaborative teams, which promote discussion, interaction and problem-solving has always been core to their learning experience.

Head Teacher Dan Abramson said: “During the pandemic and lockdown, our students haven’t been able to do all the usual collaborative activities that really matter to them. We felt it was important to continue to encourage an active learning environment. Being a resourceful community and wanting to respond to the challenges presented by Covid-19, we decided to create online virtual pods.”

Thanks to advances in technology, there are many more ways to collaborate that can occur outside of the physical classroom. Collaborating within a virtual space and using different online tools have ensured that our students have worked together within teams.

Radyah said: “Due to coronavirus, Year 12s and Year 13s haven’t had a good opportunity to communicate closely together. So, the online pods have been a chance to get to know our peers. With all the struggles of the past year, the remote pods have been like an online version of learning from others and about others! We have been able to get our work done too.”

Our students have gained in multiple ways. Lead Teacher Nicole MacNeil said: “The online pods allowed students to continue to collaborate organically, even in lockdown. It gave students a space to support each other and made remote working feel less isolating. Students have been overwhelmingly positive about being able to continue to work together on interesting problems. They were able to experience the King's Maths School atmosphere even whilst home learning.”

Abdullah noted: “Being able to work through problems together has helped reinforce my understanding of recent topics covered in the classroom. It’s been a way to replicate working together on the whiteboards and the actual physical pods.”

In today’s multidisciplinary world, collaboration is a crucial aspect for reaching goals. Societies and economies are changing and there is now more emphasis on teamwork skills, which are a vital element in today’s workforce. Global employers continue to rate teamwork and collaboration as important skills.

Mr. Abramson concluded: “Our school values the ability to collaborate, to problem-solve, to think critically, and to have group discussions as part of the learning process. Ample research suggests that effective group work leads to raised levels of student achievement and sustained, active engagement in learning. But not only that, our young people are able to develop skills that will support them throughout the future.”

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