A call for collaboration

by Claire Young @curiousCY

I want more circles and fewer lines. I am at my best when I’m working shoulder to shoulder with the people around me and we can see each other eye to eye. My problem with lines is that they leave the people exposed. My problem with lines is that we can only see a section of the people we’re working with, making it all too easy to lose connection with experiences and perspectives we really need to hear. So, my 10% braver work is playing my part in building collaborative cultures within my school community where we connect, we centre our wellbeing, and we form circles not lines.

I love teaching at a time where lots of us are invested in this work and there are ever more ways to collaborate and connect – the WomenEd movement being one beautiful example. At the same time, I acknowledge the many cultural, professional and personal dynamics at play which mean collaboration and connection are not the default of our system - especially not as we reckon with the damage done by patriarchy, colonialism, heteronormativity, ableism and other forms of domination and discrimination that have centred themselves through our history and remain alive today.

Naming the need for collaboration over hierarchy and competition – for circles not lines - still feels very necessary.

When we’re listening daily to the struggles young people face without a place we can go to be listened to, we’re left at the end of a line. When we’re investing our energy into growing the next generation without ourselves being replenished and cared for, we’re left at the end of a line. When we’re planning for meaningful change and improvement within our departments and schools, without that planning being centred on healthy, sustainable growth, we’re left at the end of a line. When we’re working out meaningful, community level responses to inequalities and injustices without brave spaces in which we can reckon with complexity and possibility of this work, we’re left at the end of a line.

We need collaborative and connected spaces in which we can do our work and we need practices and environments which sustain our wellbeing. This means:

  • reflective practice groups
  • affinity groups to help us understand and work wisely with our privileges
  • collaborative professional learning and practices which resource and replenish us so we have the energy needed to stay invested and joyful as we do all this.


These all exist, it’s just they sit on the margins of our school structures rather than the heart of it. It gets me thinking that if we created more collaborative opportunity within the profession, so we had these fully integrated into our professional life, we’d be a whole lot stronger and more courageous.

Google can offer its employees 10% time. What if we all had 10% braver time? What if that time let us connect, collaborate and widen the circles so everyone could join? What might your 10% braver time look like?

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