Be together. Not the same.
Recently I was given this phrase and asked what it means. Along with two other colleagues, we were asked to come up with our own blog post with the same title without reading each other’s blog post. I’ve pondered quite a bit about what it means to,
“Be together. Not the same.”
So often in the world of education, we feel the need to mimic what others do in the classroom. We are often encouraged to adopt certain methods of teaching that are used in other classrooms. I remember after a few years in successfully flipping my classroom an administrator whom, after I changed jobs, told the incoming teacher they wanted them to also teaching using the flipped model. After plenty of hard work from the teacher, it was abandoned for the traditional way of teaching through no fault of the teacher. Why didn’t it work? It didn’t work because it wasn’t her style or the methods that worked for her. Trying to mimic someone else will never work and it shouldn’t as it’s not intrinsically motivated. We must have control over our classrooms to create an environment that works best for us and our students.
As teachers, we need to have choice in our own classrooms. We need to have autonomy to develop our own pedagogy that works with our style. We must be encouraged to get better and to explore methods of teaching that we as teachers want to explore. We must also work together towards an end goal. How we get there is up to us as the individual.
When I think of “being together,” I think of a group of individuals working together for the betterment of the students and school culture. I think of a collaborative environment that encourages growth for everyone in the school. Being together does not mean that you have to be the same. Lets look at a classroom math example. As a teacher, I am teaching a unit on solving systems of equations. I have equipped my students to solve systems using a variety of tools. The end result to successfully solve systems of equations is expected of all of my students, but how they get there is completely up to them. They are together is working for the common goal yet none of them have the same pathway.
I must often remember that what works for others in their class may not work for me. More importantly, if it doesn’t work that is okay. We have to develop our own pathway to reach that common goal. It’s always important to be together. Not the same.