Recently in a department chair meeting, we began talking about the importance of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) within schools. One topic that came up was that for so long, educators have been used to doing things on their own. Each individual teacher has been on their own island in their classroom and has become accustomed to working independently of all of the other educators in the building. We began to talk about why it is important to collaborate and share ideas and expertise with one another. The conversation reminded me of the old folktale, Stone Soup (you can read the story below).
Once upon a time, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering soldier came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.
“There’s not a bite to eat in the whole province,” he was told. “Better keep moving on.”
“Oh, I have everything I need,” he said. “In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you.” He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.
By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the “broth” and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.
“Ahh,” the soldier said to himself rather loudly, “I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage — that’s hard to beat.”
Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he’d retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. “Capital!” cried the soldier. “You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king.”
The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved.
In this story, the village realized just how much better the end product (soup) was when everyone contributed and shared what food they had stored up for themselves. When they were willing to share, they all were able to eat a delicious meal fit for a king.
The same thing can be said for teachers collaborating and sharing ideas. Every teacher has strengths and it is important that we use those strengths not only in our own classroom, but throughout the entire school. With our combined strengths, we have the capacity to take care of every student, staff member and parent. Add to our strengths the passion that we have for what we do and we have something extraordinary!
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” ~ Helen Keller
“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” ~ Mattie Stepanek
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” ~ Kenneth Blanchard
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead