Professional Development

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Effective Collaboration: Making the Most of Your Time and Expertise

Tuesday, 17 June 2014 11:54

At the 2014 National AfterSchool Association Annual Convention, Kate Goddard and Karen Peterson of EdLab gave the presentation Collaborate for Innovative STEM Programming for Girls. Here, they elaborate on some of the most powerful ideas from their presentation.

Speed Networking was one activity organized by Goddard and Peterson, who asked participants to briefly list their resources (what they had to share) and their needs (what they needed to meet their goals) and gave participants two minutes each to share.

The fabulous thing about Speed Networking is there are always examples of participants making valuable connections. Having participants share their needs and resources is really the key, instead of just having everyone introduce themselves and their organization. During Speed Networking, we often hear from participants who work with small out-of-school time programs, either through a school or community-based organization, who are so excited about meeting someone from higher education or industry. It is as if a door has been opened for them into a whole new world of resources, including curricula, professional role models, and opportunities for their youth. Participants also often share how glad they are to just know that there are so many other professionals in different sectors who share their interests and goals."

Goddard and Peterson also discussed the attributes of successful collaboration, from the planning stages through follow-up:

"Successful collaborations usually begin with a common goal and with each partner bringing something to the table. Even if the individuals or organizations involved have separate goals for themselves or their organization, there is a larger vision bringing them together. Similar to the concept behind Speed Networking, it is a matching of needs and resources that makes an effective collaboration. More specifically, it is important to have clearly defined roles for the partners, even if these roles shift throughout the collaboration. And although the benefits to collaboration are significant, it is not always easy, and regular communication and flexibility have been found to enhance collaborative efforts. In terms of follow-through, we encourage collaborators to debrief their collaboration when the project or activity ends, including what worked, what did not work, and how the partners may want to work together in the future." For guidelines, they suggest this resource from the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP.) 

"The NGCP has a variety of resources to help afterschool education providers do the important work they do, especially related to strengthening their capacity to integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into their programs and to effectively engage girls in these STEM efforts. At a local level, there are thirty-one collaboratives serving thirty-nine states across the country. These collaboratives host in-person professional development events, create and support a state or regional network for professionals to connect with each other, share resources and expertise, and provide mini-grants for two or more programs to work together on a STEM-focused project. At the national level, we provide professional development and share exemplary practices with youth-serving practitioners via our free, public webinars, rich website, and monthly e-newsletter."

Click here for more information on how afterschool programs can build STEM strength.

Kate Goddard is outreach and online communications manager of EdLab Group.
Karen Peterson is chief executive officer of EdLab Group.