Monday, November 1, 2010

The importance of sharing

Over the last few months I have learned more and more about the value of a Professional Learning Community (PLC)- i.e. collaborating, brainstorming, and teasing out ideas with others in one's field.  Technology makes it so easy to confer with others near and far.  With so many ideas and so many experiences to share, these PLCs become transformative for those who participate. Even more, we can help others in our own institutions in the transformation by sharing what we are learning. I have always loved the concept of "each one, teach one"- teach another what you have learned yourself.

While becoming exposed to the tremendous value of these PLCs I have been troubled to hear of the selfishness of others. Many teachers do not share ideas, lessons, and activities with their own colleagues. In fact, they hold them tight as if to preserve them in some special vault. Perhaps this is out of fear or a sense of self-preservation. When I remarked to a colleague that I was shocked to hear that teachers do this, I was told that some fear that they may lose their jobs if their standardized test results are lower than the other teachers in their grade. I thought this was a symptom of a tragedy in public schools but learned just this morning that this goes on in independent schools as well. What is their fear?

What kind of world are we in when teachers fear sharing great ideas? What kind of educational system have we created when the idea of collaboration is rejected out of self-preservation? As one teacher noted, "we teach the children the importance of sharing" but, we're afraid to do it ourselves. What are we modelling?