Americans in general are known to be competitors. We like to win. As a proud American, I'm the toughest competitor around. However, the way in which I go about it is changing, and I find myself desiring collaboration over competition.
1. The Desire to Connect: As a teacher, I would like to see more bridges being built than walls going up. I want to collaborate and discuss education with other educators in neighboring counties and cities. If I see a neighborhood school doing an awesome project or using technology in an innovative way via Twitter than I want to connect! I want a piece of their greatness! I believe an open door policy among neighbors grants a certain trust that we are all in this together for our students. We all have excellent ideas to offer, so why not learn and grow together.
2. It's All About the Students: Collaboration lends itself to focusing on the students. When we get too worried about the numbers on standardized tests scores, education becomes less personal. I know this is a difficult thing, because we are all evaluated so heavily by those tests. However, I want to rise above the test! Of course, we continue to prepare students for the test, but the mentality shifts from being all about the test to a desire of providing every child quality instruction in order to be successful during school and in their future endeavours. It's important for all of us to remember that students know and feel the transparency of teaching to the test. They desire something deeper.
3. The Power of Driving Excellence in Others: I've always worked harder for someone who wants me to be excellent and values my ideas. That is a wonderful quality for a principal to have, but that task should not be solely on his shoulders. As teachers, we should be valuing each other by collaborating, demonstrating our work with each other, and staying open to each others ideas by using them in the classroom. There is no greater satisfaction than a colleague using an idea of mine in their own instruction. That is what drives excellence--giving, receiving, and validating each others contributions.
These are just a few thoughts on how collaboration drives excellence. I hope to do more of it as I grow as an educator.