“Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Our district has been on a journey the last 3 years learning how to function in Data Teams. One thing I have found to better the health of any system I’ve ever been part of is to revisit why you ever started. In this post I hope you gain clarity around your “why” in order to push forward to the next level along your Data Team journey.
There were two main “why’s” for the district when we chose Data Teams.
So let’s take this next step together. Each building has a designated time reserved for Data Team Leaders. That is OUR protected and prioritized time to collaborate and build our knowledge and facilitation skills to take our Data Team meetings to the next level. Reach out to your Instructional Coaches and let them know your specific needs. This input really helps us plan purposefully to maximize our time together.
One piece I challenge each of you to bring to your next Data Team Leader meeting is a simple status report. Tell the group where your team is currently within the Data Team process and what your next steps are. By just sharing this status report it allows you to mentally prepare for your next CLDT time with the help of your peers. Using collaboration to prepare to facilitate a collaborative group...GENIUS!
So let’s take this plunge together. Our kids deserve us to take our Data Teams deeper, but we deserve it as educators too!
As an Instructional Coach, one of the skills (or practices) I have refined and strengthened over the course of the last 4 years is my sense of reflection and its importance. The benefits include but, are not limited to; growth, confidence, more defined goal setting, an increase in vulnerability, and a stronger sense of team and collaboration.
Reflection is something I know many of us do throughout our day, maybe without even knowing it but, when you have a reflective partner, the quality (or depth) at which you can reflect is very different.
One of the ways an Instructional Coach can support teachers is through being a reflective partner.
If you look up any kind of inquiry cycle, data team process, or decision scale...you will find reflection as part of those processes. Only through reflecting can you gain a true understanding of where you need to go.
Because reflection allows us to see the steps and actions that have gotten us to the present in order to know what must be done (or redone or changed) in order to move us forward.
Having an Instructional Coach as a reflective partner can give teachers new insight, ask themselves different questions, and may allow for teachers to see things in a different way. Through the training received in various types of coaching (especially Cognitive Coaching) we have learned so many different forms of questioning that leads to deeper understanding and deeper reflection.
As a reflective partner your coach can have many roles: Listener, collaborator, co-planner, processing partner, motivator, role player, brainstormer, empathizer, and supporter. What this partnership looks like is based on the goals and/or needs of the teacher. The main goal in a reflective coaching cycle is that the teacher is able to learn, grow, and refine their practice, acknowledge all the aspects of their actions and progress, in order to move forward and be successful in what they have chosen to identify as their goals for themselves and their students.
“One of the most important benefits of reaching out to others is learning that the experiences that make us feel the most alone are actually universal” - Brené Brown
In the book Dare to Lead, author Brené Brown talks about the importance of resisting the shame so many leaders carry on their shoulders. As leaders we often feel the shame of not doing enough or being enough for the people we are attempting to lead. Being a leader is sometimes a very lonely job. One way that Brown encourages leaders to resist the shame of not being “enough” is by reaching out to others. By connecting with other leaders and colleagues we start to realize that we are not alone.
Many other people feel like they are struggling through their days and just doing everything they can to stay a float. As teachers, we often find ourselves drowning in lesson plans, homework, quizzes, tests, the list goes on and on. We are doing everything we can to just be ready for the next lesson, the next day. We feel less than, not enough, alone. By connecting with other teachers, other leaders, we can start to see this feeling of not enough is really universal. We all feel this way! We all know that we are imperfect leaders, imperfect teachers who are just doing the best we can. Brown said it best when she said, “Either we are all normal or we are all weird. Either way, it’s not just you.”
Isolation cultivates shame. As leaders, we need to resist isolation and seek comfort in the imperfection of our lives. Get out of your classroom, get out of your office and go talk with other colleagues to help you realize you are not alone! Find your tribe! Those people who are willing to admit their imperfection are the people you need to be a part of your inner circle or as Brown calls them, your “square squad”. These are the people you are the most vulnerable with and the people that help you realize you are not alone. As a leader and a teacher you are more than enough for your colleagues and your students.
Benton Community School District will be hosting the 5th annual BCEdCamp on Tuesday, June 25 at the Benton Community High School. BCEdCamp was created by the Teacher Leadership Team as an opportunity to network with other leaders and to learn together. Over the years, the vision of this day has changed each year as the attendees develop the topics for discussion. The event has grown each year, and we hope to have a large group again this year.
An EdCamp is a free learning opportunity that is open to all educators. EdCamps are participant-driven events; the schedule for the day’s topics is determined on that day by the participants. Participants can post a question for discussion or suggest a topic that they want to share about or learn about. EdCamps are not about planned presentations, but each center will have conversations about the topic. Teachers share information and experiences with each other. There is not necessarily an “expert” in the room; educators collaborate and solve problems together. Participants are free to choose the sessions that best fit their needs and can walk in and out of sessions as needed.
Attending BCEdCamp is a great way to reflect on the past school year and to get energized for the upcoming year. BCEdCamp is open to all educators but does tend to have a focus on educational leadership. This is an opportunity for Principals, Teacher Leaders, and Instructional Coaches, and other leaders to learn from one another. Some topics that could be discussed are instructional frameworks, coaching models, ISASP, ESSA, classroom-level leaders, professional learning structures, personal development, blended learning, and collaboration structures.
Remember, the schedule of topics is set that day, so if you have a burning question or something you are eager to share with others, this is a great opportunity. Whether you are a new Instructional Coach or a seasoned leader, BCEdCamp will be a chance to network and learn from each other. The Benton Teacher Leadership Team works hard to make this a fun day of learning. Snacks and lunch will be available on site.
This is a free event! For more information or to register, go to https://tinyurl.com/bcedcamp19