Sunday, August 10, 2014

Collaboration.... I Am Working On It

Sometimes being a school administrator can be a very lonely job.  When a problem or difficult situation arises, we tend to internalize and make decisions quickly in order to “take care of business”.  When planning for programs and school years, I usually sit in my office and develop plans based on the available data and what we know is ‘good for kids’.  I do take input and I do listen to my teachers, families, and administrators, but…I make the decisions.  I like it that way. 

Most of my joy arises from seeing the smiles on the faces of the students and seeing the great things that my staff is able to accomplish with the students.  I think of our school, including students and their families and our staff as “Our Family”. 

Since I am very competitive and have some ADD, my mind is constantly working on ideas for our school and our teachers.  Trying to find ways to make our school and the programs we offer even better.  My staff will tell you that I may overwhelm them sometimes (maybe a little).  Well, they should now prepare to become even more overwhelmed because I have friends who also have ideas and I have opened my mind to what they are doing and what they have done. 

So now I have become more open to collaboration with other principals in the district and with educators around the globe.  Before… I would just implement an idea or program and go on.  Now I share… And they share with me. We take the best of what each of us has to offer and we use it when it fits.  It makes sense.  Why wouldn’t we see what is working somewhere else and then use it in our own school. 

King and Lopez in TurnAround Schools: Creating Cultures of Universal Achievement write about a three step process for sharing exceptional systems:
1.       Identify an individual or team in your school, or in a school that looks like yours that succeeds in extraordinary and unexpected ways.
2.       Identify the practices that account for their success.
3.       Using your own unique resources, replicate the core principles of those practices and turn them into your own exceptional systems.

One of the best things for me about collaboration is that now I have people to bounce ideas off of and work with.  It has made my job more fun.  Last winter, I began doing on-line read alouds to students who logged in.  It was something fun and a way to engage the students when they were not in school (we had a very bad winter).  Over the summer, another principal in our district and I have been doing these together (not in the same room but at the same time), while mixing our students.  This has made the experience even more fun and has really inspired me in so many ways.  Thanks, Mr. Turnbull  @bfs_ltps.  Collaboration at its finest.

And of course… having a PLN to learn from has been an amazing experience.  Since I found twitter, I have learned so much.  The students and staff at my school and now the district benefit from the ideas and thoughts of so many great educators. We are working on developing partnerships with other districts and around the world.  Think of the possibilities.