Together We Can: Reflections from Gateway School
Samantha Woods is Head of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 at Gateway School, part of the Bellevue group. Mrs Woods tells us what the message ‘Together We Can’, the motto of Bellevue, means to the school.
The word ‘collaborate’ is derived from the Latin ‘collaborare’ which means ‘to labour together’. It involves a group of people working together to solve a problem, complete a task, or create something meaningful. For some, collaborating and working with others can be a rewarding experience but for others it is rather stressful. This is because collaborative skills need to be developed in order to be successful.
The skills children can develop through collaborative working include communication and listening skills as well as the ability to take turns and concentrate. When working actively within a team, even the most sensitive child can be supported in overcoming their fears and learning how to deal with critique. It is essential children are given opportunities across the curriculum to develop their skills and experience the success of achieving a common goal. Put simply, the more we take part in a team and make a contribution, the more confident we become.
Making an effort to do our best when collaborating with others is important for our own development and prepares us for the future. For our learners at Gateway, there are many varied opportunities to collaborate both in and out of the classroom.
Within the Gateway classrooms children are given many opportunities to work in pairs, small groups and as a whole class. This enables them to actively collaborate and achieve through a shared experience. This is a thread that is maintained across the year groups at Gateway.
This week, Year 1 children are working together to add different movements to a poem recital. Earlier in the term children across the school were invited to work collaboratively in the Bellevue ‘digicomp’, an inter-school digital competition. Given only the theme of ‘Together We Can’, the pupils organised themselves into groups and came up with their own ways to represent the theme using a variety of digital platforms. The results were incredible and some of the entries will be on our website soon. We were delighted that three of our pupils won prizes for their entries.
Moving from the classroom to the Music room the children work with Mr Mitchener to explore music as performers, composers and informed listeners. As a team, they make, understand and appreciate music from different cultures, times and places. During a Year 2 lesson it was clear the children were developing their collaboration skills whilst co creating an ensemble with percussion instruments. This proved to be an enjoyable experience for the children who enjoyed creating something they were proud of through their ability to work as a team.
On the courts, team sports are taking place. Team sports and competition are another effective way to develop collaborative skills. To understand this further, I asked Mr Butler how the children learn to collaborate through competition. He explained:
“We are lucky to have an extensive sports programme at Gateway that provides our children with opportunities to experience competition in lessons, house matches and inter-school fixtures (when they are allowed). This enables our pupils to develop coping skills when they are unsuccessful, as well as understanding how to celebrate and feel proud of their success in a graceful and sporting manner. As they develop, these skills can be transferred to the classroom and are identifiable in a child’s resilience when faced with set-backs and intrinsic motivation to better themselves. Even after a successful outcome, collaborative learning allows children to demonstrate empathy for their classmates who may be at different stages in their development.”
Collaborative learning or team work is a great chance to contribute to a project, and, most importantly, it can show the unique strengths and abilities of individuals. Whatever opportunities are available and there are many, I encourage every member of the Gateway community to grasp the challenge of collaboration and strive to develop themselves and others.
This article was originally published on 6 November 2020 on the Gateway School blog.