“What is important in teacher collaboration” I ask, and the answer I most often get from teachers, no matter where they are, is “time”. It seems to be the tendency all around the world that teachers are given more and more work and they are not given any more time.

According to Gregory and Kuzmich  “Teachers often say they need more time to talk with colleagues, but fewer than half (46%) say their overall professional development often or very often promotes collaboration”. It’s vitally important that you find a common time to see each other face-to-face and can concentrate on the task at hand, without interruptions.

But, it’s not just time that helps the collaboration, teamwork is needed also. The reason I chose teamwork as one of the principles of collaboration is, that people often think that if you work as a group, you work as a team. But it’s not as simple as that.

Actually, all of the principles I mention on this web site promote teamwork and collaboration, but I still I want you to focus on team building and interdependence. When there is not that much time at hand to get to know each other, the more important it is to remember the team and the atmosphere. Positive interdependence is the heart of collaboration and teacher teams. Teachers create the feeling that they are all responsible for the learning and well-being of the students. They realize that to do this, they have to combine their skills, expertise, knowledge and resources.

A drawing of a person.

Here is one time management handout I found for you, and also two team building games to try with your team.

Teamwork and time exercises

Activity 1: Project planner printable page

Printable planner page (link below)

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep all projects and teacher tasks organized. This example is one planner, which is easy to use and simple, but clear.

Activity 2: Diversity crayons

A different colored crayon for each participant

This is an activity in which participants use crayons as a metaphor for their own diversity.

1. Give a crayon to each participant. 

2. Have them pair up with someone else whose crayon color is close to their own. 

3. They have 2 minutes to discover all the ways that they are similar to each other. 

4. Have them pair up again, this time with someone whose colour is totally different. 

5. Now they have 2 minutes to discover all the ways they are different. 

6. Have the participants in a circle, standing next to a color that is like their own (will form a rainbow) and ask them to share what they learned.

To help team members to recognize and appreciate the similarities and differences among themselves.


Activity 3: In unison

A piece of tape to represent a start line and a finish line.

A simple activity in which the participants try to cross the finish line at exactly the same time. The purpose is to show that sometimes an activity that looks simple, when it involves coordinating others, rarely is.

1. Line the team behind a starting line. 

2. On your signal, they are to proceed to the finish line. 

3. They MUST all finish the line exactly the same time. 

4. If they are not all together, they need to go back to the starting line and try again. 

5. They need to keep trying until they succeed. 

Notice! Once the activity begins, no participant can stop motion (this eliminates the clever ruse of having everyone get to the finish line and stop and wait to just take one step together!)