In collaboration, we = more than the sum of our parts

The sum really is greater than the parts. Ariel Sacks posts her take-aways from a Center for Teaching Quality retreat where the TEACHING 2030 team used a collective approach to generate ideas.

As I returned from a retreat at Center for Teaching Quality with the team of teachers who co-wrote TEACHING 2030 along with teacher advocate Barnett Berry, I thought about the fact that when we collaborate well with others, the results are greater than the sum of the parts simply put together. It is an old lesson but it never ceases to amaze me.

We saw this happen when we first attempted to structure the book: after having a series of provocative and inspiring conversations together at our first face-to-face retreat, we all went away and wrote essays on specific topics we’d discussed. The result was a collection of interesting essays thrown together under the title, TEACHING 2030. When we reconvened, we agreed that this format was not the realization of our vision of 2030. It was a tired structure. Turning this problem over and over, we decided the ideas might be better presented as a conversation between all of us. We allowed our essays to be chopped, excerpted, and remixed throughout with Barnett’s narrative voice pulling it all together. The result, TEACHING 2030: What We Must Do for Our Public Schools … Now and In the Future, is far superior to the original idea that kept our ideas separate and compartmentalized.

This visit was no different. We were back in the same space to figure out how to move forward with the ideas in the book. We intended for the book to be a place to begin the work of creating the schools we imagine—not an end to the conversation. We had the amazing Sunni Brown with us, taking notes on everything we discussed in gorgeous visual form:

We spent a long time discussing the idea of “teacherpreneur,” which I wrote about in the book and presented a vision of at the Big Ideas Fest 2010. In the picture, we were sharing ideas about the various possible resumes and job titles of a teacherpreneur. There is now a lively conversation going on at The Future of Teaching about what a teacherpreneur is and isn’t—and how it might differ from a “teacher leader.” Check it out!

In my next post, I will share some ideas on the future of teacher preparation, which I’ve been developing with a group of fellow Bank Street alums over the last few months and were pushed forward by great suggestions and questions from my TEACHING 2030 colleagues this weekend.

In the meantime back home, I need some time to process. It’s been a whirlwind of collaboration, and I have a lot to chew on. How does all this future talk affect me right now? At present, am I a teacherpreneur?

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