The Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians has as one of its key action areas the 'developing of stronger partnerships'. Central to this action is the need to: make learners and learning central to the decision making in schools, see information and communications technology as an essential enabler of modern learning, foster a commitment to life long learning and finally manage the diverse expectation of learners (students, staff and families) by creating communities of collaboration.
Charles Leadbeater, a key architect in developing a greater understanding of personalised learning stated that "personalised learning means all the resources available for learning - teachers, parents, assistants, peers, organisations and technology - have to be deployed more flexibly and creatively". In other words collaboration is essential if we are to utilise the resources available within and beyond the walls of a school.
Michael Fullan discusses the importance of school communities working together collaboratively and co-operatively in his book "Professional Capital" and states that when a Principal plays a key role in driving collaborative effort then there WILL be an improvement in school performance.
Richard De Four (et al 2009) in looking a the development of professional learning communities that when school embrace a 'community of learning' approach where there is a commitment to the learning of each student then collaboration between teachers is essential because we don't know what we don't know. By working together and sharing knowledge and experience and identifying problems then we are in a better position to find appropriate solutions.
By embedded processes that foster and build collaborative learning communities school culture benefits in a variety of ways, including: cultivating strong relationships between adults, students and the wider learning community; creating and promoting a variety of learning and support networks; fostering commitment and ownership of school values, goals and actions; valuing the contribution of each individual within a learning community; celebrating the achievement of milestones in the journey of school improvement.
The journey to building collaborative learning communities is one worth embarking on and I look forward to hearing about your experiences, successes and failures so what we might all learn from each other.