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From Anxiety to Joy: Discussing the Emotional and Technological Anatomy of 21st Century Collaboration

Session 5
Jared Colley, Joel Garza — The Oakridge School, Greenhill School

Our conversation explores how new technologies present promising opportunities for educators at different schools to learn the meaning of collaboration. Growing from a shared interest to try something “new,” three teachers at different schools experimented to understand the organic but deliberate aspects of collaboration made possible by technology. We want to share that experience to invite participants to reflect intentionally on the emotional demands made by such projects on teachers and students. Modeling what we were learning about collaboration, both technologically and emotionally, students engaged in unexpected conversations, demonstrated knowledge through multiple media, and inspired critical thinking in all involved, demonstrating the relationship between teaching practices and student habits of mind. Students were empowered to formulate questions for real audiences, to understand through practice the relationship between purpose, audience, and word, and to analyze, create, and synthesize ideas through multiple modes of communication, all on the social space of the internet. What makes our prospective conversation unique is that we want to get others to talk about the elephant in the room - namely, what it feels like to take such risks. Standing in the way of successful collaboration is a tremendous amount of ungrounded fear and anxiety that no one wants to name, and that’s a conversation we want to explore. What did it feel like to collaborate? What did it feel like to yield to others? What were the anxieties? What were the joys? How do we get past such anxiety to connect to collaborative communities of joy?

Conversational Practice

After sharing a very short version of our story, we will generate conversation by pairing up groups to share ideas based on situational questions we distribute, and our discussion starters would be based on scenarios where we (in our previous collaborative experience) encountered challenges or difficulties emotionally speaking. Groups would discuss the question, and an appointed person from each discussion circle would then share their "best" ideas/responses on a google doc we'll have set up for everyone. (The google doc will also contain links to our web resources from our previous collaborative projects, and the google doc will be permanent so attendees can reference it later.) After each discussion starter, we'll share a little about how we responded to such challenges in our own experience as well. Some of the issues we would want to discuss would be (1) how do we get colleagues to collaborate? (2) where are the boundaries when collaborating via media and web 2.0 technologies? (3) what do we do when we cross into an “out-of-boundary” area? (4) how do we improve each other’s ideas without criticizing the other? (5) how does one handle moments of professional jealousy that no one wants to talk about? (6) when do we yield to others? (7) who owns what in a completely collaborative endeavor? (8) what are the joys to be experienced when overcoming such hurdles? (9) what kind of similar demands do we make on our students? To inspire as much sharing as possible, we’ll be providing details from our story that give specificity and context to these emotionally difficult questions. We’d also like to skype in a student to share their perspective on the experience.

Here's an audio clip (w/ images) of us talking together: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2IkraEAu1OfMUtJNUFzRnhiQUU/view?usp=sharing

Conversation Links

Presenter Profiles

Jared Colley
Jared Colley
English Chair & PD Director, The Oakridge School


Jared Colley

If you'd like to start the conversation earlier, feel free to go here:


We'd like to model our discussion on what people want to talk about most, so let us know! We're looking forward to meeting up with everyone this January!

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