I believe most of us got into this work to do right by children. For most in work, we have the heart and passion for ensuring the children who sit in the classrooms where we teach, walk the hallways we lead, or learn in the schools we support have the opportunity to receive a fair and equitable education that inspires and spurs achievement. With this large majority of individuals working for the same end goal, why can we not all work together? We all may have a different approach on how to get to the end goal. We may have a different thought on what it will take to get there. We may even differ on the type of schools that will help children reach the goal. Even with those differences, the end goal is the same. We are working for the same outcome. Why not work together instead of working against one another?
Just like everything, social media highlights the difference in views on what is best for children. Social media also highlights that there are a lot of people working for the same end goal. It is so easy to tear someone down due to their differences. It is so easy to disagree with a stance someone takes publicly. It is easy to attack someone because they say something that you disagree with. It is easy for individuals to gang up on someone because they make a statement that strikes a chord. What if, instead of tearing someone down for their differences, we took the approach to understand that person better. Instead of publicly tearing someone down for a stance they took, instead we could privately spark a dialogue with them to understand their perspective better. If you disagree, you could disagree with their perspective instead of making the disagreement personal. Instead of ganging up on someone because they say something you perceive is a personal attack.
What happened that made everything in education a competition? Why are schools, teachers, and others in this work, turning this into a competition? There are some instances where competition can be healthy.
We need to push for collaboration in education. When we compete and do not collaborate, the children suffer. The end goal gets lost in the competition because the focus moves off of wining for children but on defeating someone else. Collaboration is about removing ego, and it is about removing the “me” mentality. Collaboration is about “we.” There is an African proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” While it is easy for individual schools to do their own thing and yield results for their children, imagine how far and how much can be accomplished together.
Recently, my school collaborated with another charter school in the city to host a virtual live session sharing resources for schools and school leaders during virtual learning. Both schools presented on a series of topics and how they were tackling each issue. We also created a shared Google document of resources that we opened up to the public for those looking for tools they could use. Here is the link to the live stream Thriving During Virtual Learning in addition to the resources Thrival During Virtual Learning Resources.
We are all pulling from the same pool of students for many schools and attached to those students are dollars. This type of formula creates an environment of competition because if another school is doing something better, they will attract more families. Another negative impact of COVID-19 is how schools are less likely to share resources for fear of giving away their secrets. While I am not here to argue a change to the per-pupil allocation, which I believe some attention needs to be paid, I am here to argue a need for more collaboration.
In the words of Ace from the Hood classic Paid in Full, “Everybody Eats B,” I think we all need to take a cue from Ace and focus on the collaboration and not the competition.