Saturday, May 30, 2020

Collaboration, Creativity, and Communication

Too often we rely on the same old, same old processes for collaboration and creativity. The pandemic has fostered a renewed look at both collaboration and creativity because we have to think differently to live in these times--what we've always been doing doesn't work at home or at school. We've received a giant push to make changes whether we are ready or not.

If you're like me, your initial reaction to some of these changes is dissatisfaction and passivity. "I don't like it and I'm not going to do that," may be words you've spoken when it comes to staying home, teaching online, wearing masks, celebrating a birthday party via ZOOM and so many changes. Yet, if you're also like me and so many others, you may recognize that it does no one any good to stay resistant to needed change, and instead this is an opportunity for creativity, learning, and looking at life anew.

This morning I worked on a team project for our school. Most staff members contributed to the project with their own creativity via words and images. I added some music and strung the creative pieces together in a short video. As I worked on the project, I was struck at how this share that virtually involved no conversation was so powerful. As I read each staff member's words and studied the images and composition they chose, I was moved in many different ways. In the end, I recognized that this mostly virtual collaboration increased my respect for those I work with every day and gave me a chance to see each team member in a different light.

One silver lining of the pandemic response is that we are coming up with new ways to be together and collaborate. We are also noticing that some of the old ways we collaborated may not be as effective in every situation. For example, earlier in the week, I was apart of a process that included mostly conversation. At the end of the meeting, I found myself craving a better process for the work, one that would result in greater satisfaction, creativity, and decision making.

A key need in our world today is better structures for collaboration, creativity, and communication. The problems are too big and there are too many of us at the table to rely on the old ways of making decisions, creating, and communicating. We have to think anew about these vital components of living and learning together.

Next week at school, students will focus on what it takes to make a good team, and then they'll work as teams of about 15 students to creatively design a backyard waterpark. Later they'll embed this learning in their own creativity, communication, and collaboration as they embark on the Global Cardboard and Recycled Goods Challenge--an opportunity to create something wonderful that matches the theme of "Summer Fun." I'm excited about this learning endeavor because I know that my students will be the leaders in the future and I want those leaders to be able to effectively create, collaborate, and communicate in an effort to build a more peaceful, positive world. Onward.