In my previous post, I summed up my evidence for the role of collaboration in developing teaching quality strong enough to change student results.
There's another way I hear that argument, closer to the voices of the teachers I learned it from.
When I asked the principals of schools deliver for students often left behind what they did, there was a consistent claim that that they didn't do anything special. Instead, the key thing I heard over and over again was about knowing each student, caring about each student, and adapting instruction to keep each one moving.
My first effort to sum up what I heard was that they were saying "we love 'em and teach 'em."
As I drafted and redrafted my report, going back through the answers I'd received, I began to see something more about how they did it: the core approach was a shared approach, requiring a core of trust and commitment and common effort among colleagues.
Before I learned to call that sort of environment a professional learning community, I knew that in schools that deliver, the educators work in a distinctive way. My own summary may never have made it into print before, but my understanding of schools that get the job done is this: They love the students enough to try, and they love each other enough to succeed.
Love's an odd word in public policy discussions, but it's also a deep one in understanding human motivation and an inescapable one in faith-based understandings of what matters in human efforts. For me, it's the understanding that goes deeper than the research citations, rarely having an explicit place in the discussion, but there even when it goes unnamed.