Teamwork beats Competition among Teachers

Two of my favorite education folks both wrote this week about the perils of teacher competing with one another, and the benefits of collaboration.

John Merrow attended the NBPTS’ Teaching and Learning in 2014 conference and wrote about the experience.  He picked up on the theme that teaching should be a team sport, saying

“In teaching that means sharing ideas and curriculum; it means having the time to watch each other teach; it means setting aside time for the educational equivalent of medicine’s ‘grand rounds,’ a time when teachers who teach the same students share their observations about those kids.”

Simultaneously, Brett Clark (my guru for leadership and large-scale edtech rollouts) wrote about his tendency to be cause-driven rather than pursuing his own success.  He writes,

“I am only in competition with one person, myself. The only person I want to be better than is the person I was yesterday.”

Both Merrow and Clark illuminate the benefits that come from working together and that message resonates with me.  It seems obvious that our profession can only be at its best when those “in the trenches” coordinate their efforts.

Common sense as it might be, however, policy makers continue to enact schemes that pit teachers against each other in a fight for raises and other rewards.  Isn’t it time that teaching became a true team sport?