I used to think that I could make a difference. Now, I know that only WE can make a difference.
A few years ago my 3 yr old son asked me, “Mommy, what do you want to be when you grow up.” Know that my son’s world was all about fire, police and paramedics. So I said, I want to do exactly what I do now — I want to be a school principal. He looked at me with disappointment and said, “But don’t you want to help people? I explained that’s exactly what I get to do.
My mission statement for the past 25 years has been “to make a difference in the lives of others”. I’m sure all of us have made a difference to a few. But now my mission statement is to work in community with others to make a significant difference for the masses.
Everyone can dialogue, share, cooperate and go back into their own room or silo and do their own thing. There are a lot of great innovative efforts happening in various classrooms, in various schools, in various districts. That’s awesome, but how can those single efforts become transformative in schools. It can only be done by working in community.
In community means teams of educators at a site working together to support teams of students. Every educator in a school needs to be part of a learning community, dialoguing daily with other team members to contribute ideas to create an action that the team owns — co-planning, co-teaching and co-learning together to meet learner needs.
Educational transformation can only happen through collaborative efforts and collective action. So we need to eliminate the internal walls of schools to unite learners — both teachers and students. We also need to eliminate external walls of schools by embracing community members so that they too can contribute to making a difference to a child. In order to go from innovative to transformative, we need to travel in a bus together rather than in individual cars.
There are two proverbs that are foundational to educational transformation:
It takes a village to raise a child AND
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
That says it all.