Collaboration is at the core of project-based learning. Educators benefit from working with colleagues whether they’re starting out with PBL or have been facilitating projects for years. Shared development can be done in different ways, from formal training to informal discussions. A combination of approaches gives teachers the opportunity to find the right fit.
Professional development. Professional development opportunities are essential to building and sustaining a strong PBL program. Workbench offers targeted professional development sessions so that educators continuously develop skills, whether they’re new or seasoned PBL practitioners.
Collaboration and customization. One of the most exciting elements of PBL is that it creates an opportunity for teachers to work together to build multi-faceted projects. Teachers can break out of subject area silos and develop interdisciplinary projects together. PBL can be customized in many ways and a multi-faceted, multi-subject approach is one of them.
Observe and reflect. Designate time for observation. Teachers, especially those new to their facilitator roles, should have the chance to see their colleagues’ PBL efforts in action. Reflecting on your own projects is important, but reflecting on others’ work provides another level of insight. Student self- and peer-assessment is often conducted during and after projects. Educators can use similar strategies to learn with and from colleagues.
Create space. A physical space for discussing projects and goals provides natural opportunities for collaboration and shared planning. If it’s possible to establish a dedicated PBL “incubator”, great, and, if not, focus on making sure that an area is periodically available for sharing experiences and feedback. This becomes a valuable, in-person problem-solving space for educators.
Virtual networking. By stepping outside of their classrooms and schools, PBL prepared teachers can gain new perspectives through virtual collaboration. In addition to in-person discussion, virtual connection extends the support system for help creating projects. The Workbench project library offers access to a wide range of PBL content, ideas for tailoring projects, and information about edtech companies.
Give it time. Creating an environment in which teachers feel comfortable offering honest feedback on others’ work will take time. Remember that PBL is about the journey, not just the destination. Students are learning along the whole way and so are educators.