The founder of Integrated International School (IIS), DR VANESSA VON AUER, explains how collaborative teaching creates a learning environment and learning experience that motivates students to learn.
What is collaborative teaching?
Many educational institutions still use a “top-down” approach to teaching. This emphasises achievement and meritocracy as a means to motivate learning.
This ensures general classroom management but does little to nothing for the student’s intrinsic motivation to learn or to build positive relationships with teachers and classmates.
We believe in a collaborative approach across stakeholders. We integrate therapy into the academic programme with a team of specialists. These include counsellors, psychologists, occupational and speech therapists, and naturalistic behaviour interventionists. They utilise the collaborative teaching approach to support our students.
How do students benefit from it?
Collaborative teaching fosters open communication between teachers and students for students to achieve their educational outcomes more effectively.
Staff members provide a safe learning environment. They assure students that their feelings are valid and that the teacher supports them, no matter what.
When students feel comfortable with teachers, they’re able to express themselves more effectively. Students build confidence and become more open in approaching teachers for help. They also tend to be more intrinsically motivated to learn and enjoy learning more.
Tell us about the Von Auer Collaborative Teaching Approach.
The trademarked Von Auer Collaborative Teaching Approach (CTA) was implemented across the IIS learning environment when it was founded in 2009.
It adapts to the various emotional and social needs of students by emphasising open communication, negotiation, cooperation, partnership, compromise and inclusivity. Its aim is to improve learner outcomes, foster a love of learning and help students feel included in their own as well as their classmates’ learning journey.
The CTA helps teachers view their interactions with children as an intentional collaboration. It fosters respect and including the child’s wishes, ideas and preferences even in challenging situations. Through the principles of positive psychology, flexibility and collaboration, teachers develop close relationships with students and assist them in navigating challenges with fun, patience and innovation.
What are the six pillars of CTA?
As part of CTA, each IIS student has an Individualised Education Plan (IEP). This is tailored to their needs and shared with parents. It identifies the child’s current developmental stage, the desired direction of progress and the specific learning, behavioural or socio-emotional gaps that need to be addressed.
Teachers at the school adhere to six pillars:
- Be deeply respectful towards the student. Empathise with their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and ultimately accept them as they are.
- Identify and acknowledge feelings, both for the student and the teacher.
- Put yourself in the student’s shoes before making any decisions.
- Collaboratively brainstorm solutions or action plans with the student.
- Implement mutually agreed-upon solutions.
- Debrief with the student by expressing gratitude for the feelings and thoughts discussed openly. End the collaboration with a gesture of appreciation. This might be a high five, hand shake, pat on the back, or hug, for example.
A word from two teachers
“I guide students in social skills and break down tasks using tailored methods such as in-class therapy sessions to support social, academic and behavioural development. Collaboration with teachers, students and stakeholders ensures consistency and recommendations for areas of improvements whether it be academically, behaviourally, socially or psychologically.” – Brenda Ang, Behavioural Therapist
“We use the Von Auer CTA across and within all grade level interactions. This creates rich opportunities for older students to share their knowledge with younger students and to practise the six pillars of CTA with one another.”
– Ladyly Ramos, Head of Enrichment
Integrated International School is at 41 Sunset Way, #01-01.
6466 4475 | iis.edu.sg