Pushing a Fat Ox Around…

Mike, in a comment left on my Lessons Learned from One Fat Ox post, wrote:

I wonder to what degree the positive and productive experience of your learning team owes to serendipity? You seem to be working with a group of people who are capable of leaving their egos at the door, who have a clear sense of the ultimate mission (building bigger and better brains for the kiddies), whose self confidence allows them to consider and use the good ideas of others and who can work and play well together.

It has been my sad experience that such personalities are rare, and rarer still is finding a group of such people in one place at one time.

Your comments have touched a chord with me, Mike, because I often wonder if what our team has created is possible across teams, schools, districts and states.  With learning teams playing an increasingly important role in conversations on school reform, few have tackled the reality that creating cohesive groups of collaborative professionals is not as easy as it sounds.

What’s even more interesting to me is the role that team-based performance pay could play in strengthening collaborative work between colleagues.  I can guarantee you that my motivation to collaborate would increase significantly if I knew that there was a chance for additional compensation based on the results that we produced as a group!  I’d probably even reach out to–and work to support–the Ms Early’s that my colleague Betsy Rogers describes in a recent piece she wrote for Teacher Magazine.  No longer would ignoring under-performing colleagues be acceptable practice for educators.

The past few years have convinced me that collaboration is the key to amplifying effective instructional practices across classrooms.  Using compensation to encourage collaboration just might be an effective tool for ensuring that every child has access to high quality instruction.

What do you think?

Image retrieved from http://www.nedtanner.com/images/photo_ten.jpg on April 15, 2007