How many times have you won the rope pull on your own?
Probably never- winning in a team sport as an individual is not an easy task. You need to pull together, listen to the 'leader', strategize together, and work together. This team effort, or collaboration, does not guarantee a win- but it certainly helps!
My professional team works like this: we meet, we strategize, we keep a similar focus, and we collaborate. We all want to see our students succeed. However, there are times when our team gets knocked down- by our own perceptions of the value of one's title. An example of this was when I was stopped and asked about some confusion with duty on rain days, I could not give an answer so I told them I would check on the answer. They told me not to worry about it and that they would call the principal and find out. As polite as this person was, his response shocked me: 'Don't worry about it, you're just an EPA'. WHAT?!?
JUST AN EPA???? What the h*!! does that mean? Does it mean.....I don't know what's going on because you think I am an EPA.....hmmmmm
All I can do is shake my head at that situation and move forward. However, in moving forward I have to ask myself the question 'why would anyone presume an EPA would not know something?', 'why would someone view an EPA as just an EPA?' , and 'why are job titles ranked?'.
Unfortunately, this point of view is not uncommon. Educators are often broken down into an unwritten hierarchy of roles: admin, teachers, EPAs (TAs) by many- even within the school system, roles are levelled, in importance, unofficially.
Like in rope pull, you need a leader to call the shots and supports to help you pull. The supports pull with the leader- as one well oiled machine. In inclusive school systems, everyone has an important role to ensure the success of all students. All staff and parents/guardians must work together to support student learning. Roles of staff are different, but equally important.
Inclusive Education is no different than any team activity- it takes collaboration. If you think you can go at it alone, you are wrong. You need all players at the table: the leader and the supports. Just like in rope pull, you need to strategize and work together. Just because one person is a support does not diminish their role in student success.
Collaboration requires all members of the school team to be at the same table- a strong team can move mountains. A weak one moves very little. My aim is always to be a leader on the team and to be a support. I want to see my students, all my students, move forward. In order to do this I must work with various educators, parents, and various stakeholders. Whether my role is principal or EPA or something else, it does not make me any less valuable to our team. We bring different experiences, different perspectives, and different approaches, but we all need to focus on supporting our students' growth.