Such a simple, yet powerful idea…let’s be together, not the same. Across the educational realm, this is where the sweet spot lies. Together is where learning from one another is maximized, where respect is gained by each individual as they make their contribution to the whole.
Being together brings diverse minds, perspectives, and thoughts to one place. Being together allows us to share as an educational community. Being together communicates that we work for the same goal yet acknowledge the many wonderful paths to get there. Being together shows possibilities that we ourselves could not fathom alone.
For me, being together with other educators in any capacity – whether it be face to face or via technology, allows me to engage and learn on a level that otherwise wouldn’t be feasible. Making connections with those who share my beliefs and others who challenge my convictions are invaluable to my growth and development as an educator.
I have the honor of collaborating with educators from both close to home and distant places. We are far from the same…coming from different states and countries, different school systems and roles, different stages in our careers and lives. Together we share ideas and research. Together we talk about ideas and plans. Together we recount stories and offer insight. I am fortunate to learn and work alongside some of the best in the world and these experiences send me to school each day with a renewed passion.
If our focus were the opposite, that is, being the same, what would happen? What is the outcome of everyone working in the same way rather than toward a common goal? In my opinion, this creates stagnation. With no one to push the limits and force thinking in a new direction, we simply don’t grow. Maybe that is a little harsh, growth can definitely occur through other means such as reading and researching on our own, but without someone to bounce ideas off of does the change happen? Without the crucial discussion or debate do we move forward as fast to make a new idea work? I know personally that when I have to defend something that I believe in, I more fully understand it. When I engage in conversation about a topic, my thought process deepens.
I have heard many teachers want more time to think, talk, and process during and after professional development sessions and I agree with them. I need to talk things out with others and hear different viewpoints to grow my practice.
A quick anecdote – I could not have changed my grading practices (and if you know me, this was the most monumental change I made in my educational career thus far) on my own. I needed to be together with someone else who shared my mission but had their own ideas about how to carry it out. We worked for the same goal, challenging each other along the way. We came from two different content areas, Spanish and Social Studies, yet came out of the experience achieving our shared goal. It was a better experience because we weren’t the same…
…but we were together.
Strength lies in differences, not in similarities. – Stephen Covey