Our sixth graders have worked tirelessly to create a collaborative learning environment. At the beginning of the year, we worked together to set our environment together. Students wrote and talked about what they love about learning, and also what drives them crazy. Students also had a chance to discuss both student and teacher behaviors in the same way - an eye opening experience for me. This classroom setup evolved into classroom discussions and meetings, where students and teachers can voice successes and struggles. Just recently, we had a group discussion around some of the obstacles that present themselves in a safe, positive “best day ever” learning environment. The kids were sharing slowly, some of the different things that bother them throughout the day, week, month, year, - whatever period of time. The conversation was floundering until one of the students spoke up about being compared to other students. The student shared how being compared to another student/class makes them feel less than worthy - not good enough. The flood gates opened and students that never choose to participate were sharing similar thoughts and feelings. It was then that they were finally able to act like a cohesive unit - they finally found a common ground, where they all could agree. It was a huge light turned on for them - but more importantly me. They learned that each person can have a different perspective on social interactions. I learned that competition in the classroom has to be carefully crafted, keeping the purpose in mind - motivating students to be their best self.