The history of the past is but one long struggle upward to equality. –Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Most people support the notion that everyone is created equal. Walking the talk of that belief, however, is challenging. School cultures and professional cultures reinforce inequality, and human insecurities lead us to continuously rate ourselves against others on ever-shifting criteria for one-upmanship in all facets of life. Treating others as equals flies in the face of so many of our cultural norms, but if we want to move kids and schools forward, equality needs to be a priority.

In this video clip, Jim Knight examines the issue of equality and the ease with which we all jump to judgment about others. In schools, coaches are often sent in to classrooms to “fix” the “bad” teachers, a situation that automatically sets up the coach as the “expert” and the teacher as the “learner.” Equality goes right out the window. Jim explains the toxic nature of this dynamic and how it can serve as one of the primary barriers to engaging anyone in improving teaching practice.

We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. –Will Rogers

Schools are hierarchies, and job titles and pay scales, by definition, intimidate. When coaches and administrators act in a way that reinforces roles that are “one up” from teachers, they unwittingly create an environment that shuts down the possibility for building the collegial, professional relationships with teachers that lead to deep coaching and thus deep impact on students.

Fostering equality, understanding that everyone is not the same but everyone counts the same, is as important to school improvement as any instructional strategy. All educators are created equal, and in an environment that walks the talk of that principle, students and schools move in the right direction.