Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Better Together: Relationships, Collaboration, and Outcomes (Aspects of Culture and Climate, Part 1 of 8)

Shayna Pond, Lindsay Hawkins, Lindsay Williams, Mary Braggs | Published: June 8th, 2023 by K20 Center


Teamwork is a major contributing factor of job satisfaction and work engagement. The investment in building strong team collaboration creates a win-win outcome for both the employee and the organization. This professional learning session is part of a series that explores the eight aspects of organizational culture and climate measured by K20's research-based survey. Participants look at the research factors that support strong collaboration and then reflect on the data collected from their school survey in order to create a goal for how to improve collaboration at their school.

Essential Question

How does collaboration foster reciprocity for both individuals and an organization?

Learning Goals

  • Explore research-based characteristics of the research construct, collaboration.

  • Analyze survey data in the context of your school.

  • Apply strategies to your role within your team and within your school.

Materials List

  • Session Slides (attached)

  • Research Brief (attached, 1 per participant)

  • Values Chart (attached, 1 per participant)

  • Highlighters (4 different colors, 1 of each color per group of four participants)

  • Chart paper (1 piece per group of 4)

  • Markers (at least 1 per group of 4)

  • Pens/pencils (1 per participant)

  • Red, yellow, and green slips of paper (1 of each color per person)


10 Minute(s)

Introduce yourself and the topic of this presentation on slide 2. Mention that today we will look at the research and data from the climate and culture survey about collaboration, but first, we are going to do a quick activity to reflect and share our previous experiences and feelings about collaboration. In this activity, we will show you several statements representing different scenarios that may or may not benefit from collaboration. Most times collaboration is great (two heads are better than one, etc.) but sometimes, it’s just not the right course of action to collaborate. Show the video on slide 3.

Move to slide 4 and ask your participants to find their three small sheets of paper, one of each color, red, yellow, and green. Let them know that as you read each of the statements on the following slides 5–11, they will hold up the color that represents their feelings about collaborating in that situation. There are no wrong answers, but we might call on a few volunteers to share their reasons for each situation as a way for us to see different perspectives in these situations. This strategy is based on Stoplight Stickies.

  • Green: Yes, let’s go!

  • Yellow: Sometimes depends on a few things.

  • Red: Nope, flying solo…

Show the video on slide 12 to end on a fun note about collaboration.


20 Minute(s)

Move to slide 13 and introduce the learning objectives for this session. The goal is to explore research, analyze the survey data for your school, and apply strategies for improving collaboration for yourself and within the school. Move to slide 14 and ask participants to use their computer or phone to take the very quick work style preference inventory. Mention that they should answer how they are feeling in this moment. It’s expected that we might get different results with different projects in mind or at different times of your life. The results don’t define you.

Once everyone has finished move to slide 15 and ask, “What do you notice about these four styles in terms of projects and/or processes?” Allow a few volunteers to offer insights. Hopefully, someone will point this out, but do so if no one does. Each of the four styles lends themselves to benefit different parts of the collaborative process from start to finish.

Hand out the values chart, one to each participant. At this time, ask them to fill out only the first column as pictured on slide 16. Participants may look at their work preference quiz results for inspiration if they are struggling to answer the questions on the values chart. This should help them identify what they value when collaborating.

Go to slide 17 and pass out the attached Research Brief for the next activity. Ask participants to begin reading the research once they have completed the first column of their values chart. After everyone has read through it once, ask each person to pick a highlighter color from the center of the table. Then display slide 18. Based on the highlighter they choose, they will read the research one more time and use the Categorical Why-lighting strategy by highlighting words and phrases they feel speak to the work preference style they are assigned (which may or may not represent their highest scoring category).


20 Minute(s)

After everyone has done their second reading with highlights, have participants take turns at your table sharing what they highlighted and why they related that idea to the work style they were assigned. Use the timer on slide 19 to make sure each person in the group gets one minute to share out. Then give a few minutes for the whole table to discuss the question on slide 20. Then ask for volunteers to share what they discussed with the whole group.

Have participants return to their values charts and fill in the second column by reflecting on what actions they take during team projects.

E.g., If I value time on task then on the positive side I will schedule time on my calendar to work on a task. On the other side, I might get grumpy in meetings when they go off task.


20 Minute(s)

Next, have everyone access the Infogram with their school results for “Collaboration.” Then begin handing out a piece of chart paper to each group. Display slide 23 and explain that we will be doing an inside out chart. They can start with a small rectangle in the center of their chart paper. In this box, write one or two objective observations they have made about the data. This should be straight facts, no interpretation yet.

Then, move on to slide 24. In a slightly larger rectangle with a dotted line through the middle, have them write on the top half, statements in response to the question, “What are your feelings about the data?” In the bottom half, have them write statements in response to the question, “What key insights do you take away from this data?”

Finally, go to slide 25. Have participants write in one last larger rectangle, a statement in response to the question, “What can we do as a result of this data?”

Provide some time for each group to share what they wrote in the last rectangle about what we can do to improve collaboration.


15 Minute(s)

Finally, have participants return to their values chart one more time to fill in the third column and answer the question, “How can we better foster a positive collaborative work community?” After they’ve had some time to reflect individually to this question, let them know they can choose to add what they wrote on the values chart to their Inside Out chart paper as well. Leadership will reflect on the Inside Out chart papers as well.

Research Rationale

Teamwork is a major contributing factor to job satisfaction and work engagement. The investment in building strong team collaboration creates a win-win outcome for both the employee and the organization (Ogbonnaya & Valizade, 2018; Karatepe & Olugbade, 2016; Arnold et al., 2020). Employees who are given meaningful opportunities to work with others in order to meet organizational goals feel valued by their employers. This results in increased commitment to the organization and less disengagement (Ogbonnaya & Valizade, 2018). Moreover, being a part of a team prevents isolation, influences our sense of who we are and what our future career goals are, and contributes to an overall sense of well-being (Arnold et al., 2020; Ryan & Deci, 2000). So we ask ourselves, “How can we strive to create a sense of community in the workplace that contributes to meaningful and effective teamwork?” Traditionally, the four facets of teamwork are (1 ) Relationships, (2) Goals, (3) Roles, and (4) Processes (Burke, 1982).


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