- a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or group
Schools today have become so competitive. States place letter grades on schools and districts so they can more easily identify who is the best and who is the worst. Teachers are grouped into camps based on their ability to be Highly Effective or Minimally Effective. Textbook companies fight for business by claiming to have the best technology enhancements, being the most aligned, and having the most interactive features, while cutting down the programs already in use as no longer relevant and out of style. We have teachers fighting for honors such as Teacher of the Year or Staff Member of the Month, competing to be recognized as better than their peers, all the while our students, who we are sorting, selecting, and labeling continue to be pushed through our systems, often times memorizing content, but rarely becoming fully prepared for all that life will throw at them.
In our schools we have to stop playing the label game. We have to stop comparing everybody and everything. Teaching is a collaborative endeavor and unfortunately, what we are doing is turning it into a profession of backstabbing and isolation. In an attempt to stand out we often refuse to stand next to anyone or anything.
Leaders, stop looking for gimmicks to take the place of your teachers and find tools that support your teachers. Teachers, stop trying to compete with your peers and start working with your peers. Students, quit working for points and start working for knowledge.
Education, to be pure and lasting, must engage in a process of symbiosis. We must look for systems that are mutually beneficial. If we recognize one teacher as being exemplary, we must not only recognize that teacher, but find ways for that to create leverage and opportunity for all. If we stumble across an amazing new tech tool, we cannot look for ways for that device or program to replace the guidance of a teacher, but instead must look for ways for that to enhance and support what a teacher does.
We wonder why there is a teacher shortage. One reason is because in so many places new teachers are brought in to their school while administrators publicly say they don’t have time to offer them support, other teachers are more worried about their own classrooms, and the isolation from competition becomes too intense and within three years, more than half decide to explore other options. We must look for ways to help rookies and veterans support each other. We must find ways to allow for content experts and child development pros to work hand in hand. We cannot continue to look out for ourselves or others just like us. We must look for ways to support the common good if we really care about what is good for out students.
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Be sure to look for Dave’s new book, Bold Humility, this summer or check out his current best seller It’s Like Riding a Bike: How to Make Learning Last a Lifetime