In the article “Why Steve Jobs Obsessed About Office Design”, Walter Issacson made a few key points about teamwork and collaboration that help to explain why PLCs in education are so important for the future of our students and our nation.
1. “Creativity is a collective process. As brilliant as the many inventors of the internet and computer were, they achieved most of their advances through teamwork.”
Since the beginning of the 2013-14 school year, teachers at Legacy have begun the journey to operating as PLCs instead of individual contractors of learning. The beauty of the PLC is that teachers can work together to create lessons for students that are relevant, aligned to the standards and challenging. Teachers share the work load instead of trying to do everything themselves. The shared time they spend together once per week allows teachers to have a space where creativity flows and great ideas are born.
2. “Twitter, for example, was invented by a team of people who were collaborative but also quite contentious.”
Working with other people is an acquired skill. We have been measured on this metric since we all first entered school – “works well with others” is what it was called. Working together in a PLC as a harmonious group takes time and a lot of patience with others. Learning to listen more than we speak is a tough task for some. A fully functioning PLC takes more than one meeting, more than one month, more than one year to form. It takes time!
3. “Even though the internet provided a tool for virtual and distant collaborations, another lesson of digital-age innovation is that, now as in the past, physical proximity is beneficial… There is something special, as evidenced at Bell Labs, about meetings in the flesh, which cannot be replicated digitally.”
Quite often, we fall into a “Can’t you just email us what you need to tell us. Why do we have to meet?” mentality. This article explains exactly why it is important to meet. There are some things that cannot be explained thoroughly via digital communication. You can’t see your coworkers faces and their reactions to your comments. You can’t read tone or intention through email. Creativity is stifled when we can’t meet face to face. Organizations are made of people, not just ideas and thoughts – real people with feelings, experiences and fears. All those characteristics come into play when working with others.
I found this article both enlightening and affirming. We all know the visionary genius that Steve Jobs was. He understood the importance of collaboration and teamwork. He understood that he did not have all the answers. He knew that the strength of his vision depended on the strength of the individuals he worked with.
I believe the same is true for LHS. The strength of our entire instructional program lies on the backs of those who deliver the instruction. Planning together is the best way to ensure that our students receive the best! Nothing less is acceptable!