Some of the most exciting work that I've ever done in my professional career was on the first professional learning team that I was ever a part of.
What made it so different from most of the collaborative groups that I've worked on was our genuine belief that EVERY teacher on our sixth grade language arts team was responsible for the success of EVERY student on the sixth grade hallway.
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When we looked at numbers -- test scores, attendance patterns, student surveys, students in need of remediation -- we didn't see MY numbers or THEIR numbers. Instead, we only saw OUR numbers.
And OUR collective commitment drove us to help one another. To ask and answer questions about practice together. To spot trends in what was (and wasn't) working -- not because we were playing some game of professional gotcha where spotting successful practice meant spotting successful people, but because spotting successful practice meant spotting solutions for helping kids to succeed.
That shared work was incredibly important for our kids. Whether they ever sat in different classrooms, they were learning from all of us -- which guaranteed them access to the best of what we knew as a learning team.
But just as importantly, that shared work was incredibly important to me. Turns out that studying practice together in a safe environment where you can trust the intentions of your colleagues and where helping kids matters more than competing against the guy in the room across the hall can be a heck of a lot of fun.
Now don't get me wrong: Pulling off that "our kid" mentality on a learning team ISN'T easy. It takes time, it takes the right kind of people, and it takes a bit of professional know-how about collaboration around student learning.
But when you get it right -- when focusing on the OUR in YOUR becomes the norm instead of the exception to the professional rule -- there's nothing better.
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Original Image Credit: Nice Portrait of Tween Girl by pictureYouth
Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on September 26, 2012