Vicky Loras

Encouraging student collaboration – Vicky Loras

How can we encourage student collaboration?

The classroom as an environment, a place where students feel welcome and comfortable – that is what I imagine as a great learning place. It all starts from the teacher: when the educator creates such an environment, the students instantly feel it and help cultivate it.

It can all start from the moment when an educator sets pair work and rotates partners – the students feel comfortable with each other. I have noticed that a good relationship among them can lighten the atmosphere and create a great place for interaction and learning. They also then enjoy learning in small groups or pairs and even go after such ways of collaboration. I have noticed a nice image in my classes: I instruct my students to complete a task and they automatically turn to the person next to them and start discussing the topic, exchanging opinions and working together. Their relationship is so much based on cooperation, that when one of them is absent, the others contact them to update them on what they missed. When that happens, I know something great is going on!

In some cases, I find students who have something in common so they can use that to their advantage in a cooperative task. They feel that they share something, that they can create something together and that inspires them to work alongside each other. Expanding a little further, when the class collaborates in little cells such as pairs or small groups, then those cells create a healthy body!

Of course sometimes it can be a matter of character and some students might not be able to work with each other, but I have noticed in other teachers’ classes as well as my own, that when educators try to cultivate a great atmosphere in class, in the majority of times they succeed.


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Vicky Loras

My name is Vicky Loras and I am an English Teacher, born in Toronto, Canada. For ten years, my sisters (Eugenia and Christine) and I owned an English School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, but I have now moved with my eldest sister to Switzerland, where I continue to work as an English teacher. I believe in teaching as an ongoing learning process, both for the benefit of the students and the teacher. For that reason I love attending workshops and conferences! Outside class you can usually find me at bookshops or libraries, I absolutely love books!

13 thoughts on “Encouraging student collaboration – Vicky Loras”

  1. What an inspirational post, Vicky! I totally agree that team building and cooperation start from the teacher and from his/her willingness to promote and establish them in class. It doesn’t happen overnight but as you say, when teachers “cultivate a great atmosphere in class”, students will, sooner or later, be happy to share and work together. On the contrary, when we establish- sometimes unintentionally- a highly competitive atmosphere, we can’t expect students to be willing to cooperate, simply because they don’t know how to.

    1. Hi Sophia!

      Thanks so much for your comment! Right, sometimes competition might come unintentionally, so we have to be on the lookout : ) Thanks for adding that.

      Have a great week!

  2. Right on, Vicky! We have to look after the cells so they stay healthy and strong, and if they become damaged, then we have to doctor them to fitness again! We just need to put our “doctor” hat on! 😉

  3. Hi Vicky
    I can’t tell you on how I agree with the tone setting in the classroom. Sometimes the best way to get people to work together starts from the atmosphere, when they feel comfortable, they will be able to work with anyone.
    Love the post so much!

    big hugs,

  4. Dear Vicky and All,
    I tried to use collaborative learning in my classroom because it helps learners a lot to work in groups and to Learn Course Content. It increases between-student communication and increases student involvement in classroom tasks. It fosters Integration (gender, racial, ethnic, etc) and among other benefits.
    But I will ask you questions about it and how to make it more effective inside the classroom.
    Faisal Shamali

  5. Hi Vicky,
    thanks for your post. I mainly teach teenagers and I can tell you how crucial it is to set the right atmosphere at the beginning of the course. It can take a while, I know, but once you get it, students start to understand the importance of being collaborative, and those strange teenage prejudices (about being nerd, cool, not nice etc.) slowly disappear :-).
    You’re right they “feel they can create something together”, what a great benefit!

    1. Hi Valentina,

      I apologise for my late reply.

      Thank you so much for reading, commenting and sharing your own experiences – what a beautiful image of your teens who all collaborate as the year progresses!

      Many thanks,

  6. Motivation is very important to student learning. We motivate our students by giving out praise and offering encouragement; by trying to show them the long-term benefits of learning English, that is, building intrinsic motivation in our students. For instance, they might want to study or work abroad one day or just enjoy films and songs overcoming the language barrier. Also setting up pair and group work and trying out new classroom layouts promotes motivation.

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