The Motivated Teacher

Michael Todd Clinton

Competition vs. Collaboration in the Classroom

This is my first post as a compelled tribe member, and I really wanted to come in with guns blazing and take a definitive stance on this topic. Our topic was “COMPETITION vs. COLLABORATION”. But picking a side on one of these two topics was like trying to decide if I would rather catch a small mouth bass vs. a large mouth bass or getting to eat a big greasy cheese burger vs. a big greasy pizza. I just can not choose. So, I’ll take both. Here is why.

The coaching and competitive side of me have always believed in the word competition. But after seeing games like kahoot, quizzes, and more competition like assessments in the classroom, I believe it should not just be an important word in the sports world. Competition should be an important word in the classroom and in our entire education system. The picture below is one of my players writing journals.Yes, I am that coach that makes my players WRITE, reflect and COLLABORATE with one another to get better.  As you can see COMPETE is used twice in my 2017 team motto. I feel competition and collaboration should be used and taught by teachers. Teacher’s don’t just give your students’ a red folder and tell them to write stuff in it. Give them guidance, skills, and knowledge they need to learn to compete against themselves and learn to collaborate more effectively.


How do you do this in a classroom?

So, let’s first determine what it means to COMPETE. Compete is the root word for competitive and competition. Webster defines it as, “having a sense of rivalry and of striving to do one’s best as well as to outdo another.” I try to instill this in my players, especially the ONE’S BEST part of the definition.  I explain to them if they can learn to compete with themselves every day to get better then the rest of the stuff like winning, batting average, errors, etc. will take care of itself. We should all learn to compete with ourselves every day and reflect on what we learned, right or wrong. I would call this collaborating with yourself. At the end of the day, we are the only ones staring back at us in the mirror.

Now let’s discuss collaboration and how it could improve our entire education system. Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. I have touched on this in my blog before but will admit to my weakness once again. I am not a good COLLABORATOR, but I recognize this and am trying to improve it. I am one of those people that would rather do it myself than ask someone else to help. I am not great at delegating either and can appreciate leaders and administration that can do this effectively.  Anyway, what I am learning from collaboration is this. DO IT, and allow your students to do it in the classroom. I have been venturing outside of my classroom a little bit more lately, and I am learning all kinds of awesome things from teachers that I collaborate with in my school. I make sure the teachers I collaborate with are teachers that have the same goals as me. That goal is “TEACH students standards not teach standards to students”. The kids should always come first. If you don’t have that relationship, reading or stating the common core standard is going to mean nothing to them.

Teachers if you care about your students’ success and intrinsic MOTIVATION teach them to compete against themselves like I teach my players. If you can do this the rest will take care of itself. Instead of batting averages, you will see things like attendance, grades, test scores, benchmarks, EOCs, etc. improve.  I will add this as a side note on collaboration, collaborate with other teachers in your school that MOTIVATE you to be a better teacher. I know that there are teachers that only want to complain about the lack of snow days, Johnny’s behavior, and our new standards, ME TOO, but the ones you need to be around are the ones that can get past that stuff quickly and move on to talk about new technology or things they are doing that is helping students in the classroom. What I am saying is don’t waste your time around teachers like Negative Nancy or people in life for that matter that bring you down. Look for a POSITIVE in every situation, no matter what it is. I love the quote below, think about it and the five people you spend the most time within your school or in your daily life. YOUR smart you will get it.


Speaking of COMPETITIONS, myself and two other teachers in my school that I COLLABORATE with are currently competing in educational leadership COMPETITIONS. I and another teacher are actually both applying for the same fellowship for the state of Tennessee. Do I feel like I am competing against her?  Yes I guess a little (that’s the competitor in me) but would I be just as pumped if she won rather than me absolutely, Why? Because I know that if she wins she will COLLABORATE with me, and I can learn the process to compete next year if I choose. At the end of the day we really have no say so in what the state is looking for, we just have to do what we do and see what happens.

So to wrap this up, how do we compete in the education system? I could list a million things like graduation rate, funding, etc. but for today’s sake, we are going to talk about TEST SCORES! I remember a few years ago sitting in a faculty meeting. Picture this, we came in and every teacher’s name and test scores were on the board for each subject area and grade. I was on the board more than any teacher in the school. Most of them were on there one or two times. I was in the excel spreadsheet 20 times since I teach four grades and four tested areas. Guess where my name was 19 out of the 20. If you guessed the top Thank YOU! Haha, but NO the very bottom. How did this make me feel? Like crap! I was a new teacher and too immature to handle this like I would now. I’m pretty sure I made some excuses, and even my administrator at the time made an excuse for me. Now, I would not make excuses but I would take action. I have high expectations for my students, and I may still be the overall lowest average in my school or county, but my student’s expectation will always be the same as everyone else. If next week I come into a faculty meeting and see that same spreadsheet, I will get out my notebook. I will write down all the names at the top of the list. I would then take that list of teachers and hound or COLLABORATE with them to figure out what they are doing. Obviously, they are doing something right and I want to know what. You could probably learn something from the ones at the bottom as well, but I don’t have time to go there. This story is one of the reasons why I applied for the teacher’s leadership program. I want to fight for curriculum for classes like mine, and to not embarrass new teachers like I was embarrassed. You can imagine how the competitor in me felt that day.

While writing this I have the TV turned to a fishing COMPETITION. I turned the volume off mute to watch the weigh in. What is ironic is that they are talking about how the anglers COLLABORATE with one another when the COMPETITION is over. They are doing this so that the next day they can help each other be better anglers. This is my message to you! TEACHERS and ADMINISTRATORS compete against yourself and collaborate with others that have positions similar to yours, so that like the professional anglers, we can be professional teachers and be better today than we were the day before.

In closing, I want to say thank you to The Compelled Tribe Members for letting me learn and blog with you. A special thank you to Mr. Jonathon Wennstrom, for not turning his head to some guy claiming to be a  MOTIVATED TEACHER. I do want to be a motivating teacher, but it mostly is supposed to mean I am motivated by YOU. Yeah, YOU the teachers that actually read blogs about education when you don’t have to. Thank you for what you do for kids, “Let’s go MOTIVATE.”

What is your thoughts on this topic? If you have any suggestion for me, to help build curriculum for a class like mine please share. I hope I get an interview at least for the competition I am in and would like to have some different ideas to COLLABORATE.

Please Share this post.

Thank YOU,

Michael Todd Clinton                 badge_compelledtribe_zpsl1bzxpmg

Categories: education


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