Which is more effective at improving student achievement? Competition or collaboration?
Research has demonstrated collaboration as the most effective way to help students. That's right! When teachers talk and share, students improve. Why? To begin, competition among teachers can't be helped. Of course we want to know how we stand. Are our students learning more or less than others? How do we compare to other schools, districts and even other classes? But when this competition begins to focus on winning at the cost of the relationship to the point where the looser pays the price and walks away ashamed, we wonder if the cost is too great.
Nothing happens alone. We all need others to find success, foster learning and grow dendrites.
At our school, we are fully ingrained in the professional learning community (PLC) model that fosters collaboration among staff. An earlier post addressed culture and again, we see that a good culture is vital to pure collaboration. Defining collaboration as teachers talking among themselves, we notice all students have opportunities to benefit from the advice as one teacher advises another. This is advice is only freely given when there is a mutual relationship between each member. It's also freely received if the recipient does not feel pressure to follow along but can incorporate the ideas and methods into their own teaching presentation. Insecurity and doubt among staff, prevents this true collaboration from actually occurring.
Of course, collaboration obviously allows teachers to share ideas, methods and pedagogy. An unforeseen outcome is the level of confidence a teacher gains by talking to other teachers, who also dealing with these same students. Sharing and not commiserating over students becomes a healthy alternative that promotes success for the students individually which raises the bar for all in the learning environment.
Watching teachers work together for the benefit of everybody becomes the ultimate outcome goal as administrator. Seeing cooperation in action at school seems to validate the research and data about collaboration.
Therefore, an administrator's success is measured by the success of every individual present.
Just as a leader succeeds, only if all others succeed!