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All Hands on Deck: A Baby's First Flight and Collaboration

I orginally published this piece on my Center for Teaching Quality blog in 2013, but the combination of the influx of flying over the past few weeks and some conversations with some fellow educators has me ruminating on this again. 

I witnessed something beautiful the other day. One of those moments that fills your soul and makes you appreciate the good in others.

On a flight to Raleigh-Durham to meet with a group of amazing teachers at the Center for Teaching Quality, I saw a new mom struggling last minute onto our Southwest flight.

What is beautiful about this? The collaboration that followed.

New Mom was the last passenger aboard, squeaking in just minutes before the gate closed. We could hear her before she came into view, because the little pile of chubby curls she carried in her arms was making his presence known, announcing his arrival with a bubbling chorus of squeals and giggles.   

baby.jpgShe had Junior in one trembling arm, a carry-on diaper bag stuffed to the gills dangling off her shoulder, and a baby carrier in the other. Man, she was struggling. As she hedged down the aisle, teetering on the brink of collapse, a team of passengers jumped up to assist.    

One man grabbed her carry-on, delicately guiding it off her shoulder and placing it carefully in the overhead bin (but asking her if she needed anything out of it first).     

A flight attendant came and scooped up Junior, making it easier for her to slide into her seat and get settled in.     

As New Mom was attempting (unsuccessfully) to buckle in the baby seat, the couple behind her leaned over and showed her how to do it, modeling and talking her through every move so she could do it herself next time.

Then, as babies do, Junior spit up all over the seat (I was strangely intrigued by the large amount of fluid that could come out of such a tiny body). This put another team into launch, as the lady across the aisle whipped out tissues and another good Samaritan hauled to the back of the plane to grab a towel. This helper then returned not only with a towel, but with a cup of coffee for the frazzled mother. I then witnessed New Mom tearing up at the support she was receiving from strangers at 7:30 on an early Monday flight as she profusely thanked all who helped.    

But the anecdote is not over yet. This support didn't stop at take-off.  There was in-flight entertainment for Junior, with about 10 of us oogling, waving, and playing with the baby so mom could take a breath. He even learned how to use (well, look at) at an iPad. And Veteran/Master Mom, who was sitting in front of New Mom, turned around in her seat to offer counsel. More support. Coaching. It was beautiful.

That, my friends, is all hands on deck collaboration. That is the way to work as a team to assist the needs of a child and his family.    

This is the brand of collaboration and support we need for every child in our schools. Everyone chipping in, doing their part to ensure success. With resources, modeling, and ongoing support after initial assistance. We must make sure that in our schools, we are thinking of the children we teach as our children, even if they don't sit in our own classrooms. We must be willing to jump up and assist our fellow passengers when they are struggling. It must be all hands on deck.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy SALMON

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The opinions expressed in An Edugeek’s Guide to K-12 Practice and Policy are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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