Collaboration Etiquette Among “Professionals”

Collaboration Etiquette among Professionals

I must admit, that I take certain professional etiquette in collaboration for granted, even after having witnessed unprofessional behavior here and there.

Sometimes unprofessional incidences can be culturally related (for example punctuality) and sometimes they can be personality related ( ex. ambition, striving to give your best, not wanting to let a colleague down or inconveniencing someone else on account of one’s own actions).

As collaboration (physical & online) among educators becomes more and more important…as we are reaching out beyond our own classroom and school walls and connecting with other professionals…it seems to me …that what constitutes professional collaboration should be discussed, defined and expectations worked out.

The very first time I heard about “pointing out guidelines for professional behavior”, I was at a Curriculum Mapping conference with Heidi Hayes Jacobs. Heidi suggested to start out with the 4 P’s in the beginning of mapping collaboration: Present, Punctual with Positive Participation.

It struck a chord with me. Have you witnessed other teachers arriving late, talking through or doing unrelated work during a faculty meeting or workshop? Has a meeting been unproductive or canceled because one participant forgot or arrived late? We might assume that it would be obvious to be on time, not letting others wait,  arrive with all materials present, following up (or though) with a task assigned to them, and ready to work together.

How important does professional behavior become, when you are collaborating with and relying on a colleague or a project partner? Maybe the simple act of raising awareness of what one might expect in regards to professional collaboration and its importance as collaboration increases among the education community might be enough… Or it might have to be spelled out… Or one might even “script the critical moves” as brothers Chip and Dan Heaths say in their newest book called “Switch- How to Change Things when Change is Hard”.

What should an etiquette for in house collaboration among grade levels, cross grade level, between coaches, facilitators, resources and classroom teachers look like? What should an etiquette among online collaboration partners include?

  • Punctuality
  • Follow up and through
  • Unexpected and scheduled interruptions
  • Postponing or cancellation of events, meetings, project, etc.
  • Communication (f2f, via e-mail, google docs, Skype, Twitter )
  • Deadlines & timelines
  • Validation and acknowledgment of time & effort spent
  • Flexibility
  • Honesty
  • Who is responsible for what?

How would you spell out a professional etiquette for collaboration? What are rules of behavior you adhere to and respect in others that make collaboration more successful.