It might seem like the stars need to perfectly align in order for successful cooperative learning to happen, but we as teachers have the power to align those stars. Creating strong, interdependent teams is one way to ensure collaboration is a huge value added to student learning.
The Colorado Teacher Evaluation Rubric asks teachers to "demonstrate an awareness of, a commitment to, and a respect for multiple aspects of diversity while working toward common goals as a community of learners." This is a laudable goal, and we can all agree that a respect for the diversity of humans is an important value for our students to develop.
Over the course of my career, classrooms have become increasingly student-centered. In full realization of the access we all have to an enormous body of information, teachers have been called to move from a position of the holder of knowledge to one who facilitates students finding their own answers and solving their own problems. This has created a shift in which teachers move from imparting knowledge and wisdom to creating the conditions in which students can be successful owners of their own learning.