Tips for Multi-Partner Collaboratives

When planning for a multi-partner collaborative you may want to consider the following.

  • The architecture unit is a longstanding tradition that we reimagined with multiple partners working. Working from an already established unit rather than creating an entirely new unit allowed us to put more emphasis on partnership building and how the different partners would enhance student engagement.
  • Having one contact person helps with logistics. If the contact person is not the teacher(s) it allows the teacher(s) to concentrate on student learning while a project manager can handle administrative tasks and ensure that partner’s needs are being met. As the unit becomes more established it is easier for a teacher to assume the logistical responsibilities while continuing to focus on teaching.
  • What if? If there is a way to allow teachers not directly involved in a multi-partner collaborative to work as a project manager for their fellow teachers they will gain valuable experience in project management, which may have a positive impact on their teaching. This could be a unique, useful, and interesting professional development experience.
  • Identify potential partners in the vicinity of your school. What areas of expertise are close by? Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museum of Art are both within walking distance. Knowing the expertise in your immediate neighborhood might help inspire ideas for a multi-partner collaborative and make it easier for partners to gather in-person to brainstorm and plan.
  • Create a shared document that details the responsibilities of each partner. You may want to use an online sharing tool such as Google docs. This helps when there is turnover by providing the newcomer a quick reference to review, but it also helps teachers and partners understand their roles and, because it is well-communicated in advance, make sure to let others know when an objective is not met due to time or if students struggled with particular content.
  • Plan for multiple planning meetings in the first year, but keep in mind you may only need one pre-unit planning meeting as you move into your second year.
  • Hosting a debriefing session after the completion of each unit is a prime opportunity to note successes in addition to areas of potential change. Waiting until the next year to discuss these items risks individuals forgetting their comments and ideas. If you are unable to meet to debrief collect feedback with a quick, online survey or, even simpler, emailed comments to the project manager, and use those comments to structure your pre-unit meeting the following year.