Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What collaboration is all about

Today I got to give a little presentation about our voluntary PLC that's been meeting once a month to work on differentiation and mastery-based instruction.

As I prepared for it, I was mainly thinking about how I might motivate other teachers to get on board.

Though I did originally have a slide about the meaning of a collaborative culture, my main intent was not to send that message.

But maybe that's what happened. For one thing, as I talked, that's how I felt. As I described what we do:
It’s not about showing off.
It’s about troubleshooting, sharing, experimenting and improving.
It’s about collaborating.
That's what I was feeling. And as I described what some teachers a have already shared at our meetings, and one teacher in particular who had run into serious challenges as he tried to implement the mastery model, I felt the need to reiterate:

That's what this is about. It's not about starting with the assumption our strategies will work. It's about facing the facts, whatever they are, and improving.
I needed to hear that.

And looking out at the crowd, I thought I sensed everything from resistance and fear to agreement and encouragement. And I guess all of those feelings are in me as well. The tendency toward isolation and every-man-for-himself educational survivalism in which we all have to pretend we all have it all together gets to me.

Afterwords, a colleague said, "Thanks for the pep talk."

I hadn't thought about it as a pep talk, though it turned out to be one for me. 

Time I got more serious about being vulnerable and open, facing brutal facts, and being fully committed to improvement, whatever the implications to me.

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