Follow me…I’m right behind you!

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As February is now upon us, it is a time that I use to step back and take a more meta-view of my programs and goals. This is a pivotal time to stay focused on your goals, because it is one of the most difficult times. It is busy, and frantic (report cards, assessments, OSSLT, etc…), but it can also be a fruitful time to check in and see what is working, and what is not working. Because I work closely with a cohort of teachers, its important to check in on the roll-out of the blogging, and on our new initiative Hapara.

One of the ways that I’ve tried to frame my step-back observations is to leverage the “people power” or, as Carroll, Rossen, and Dunlap & Isenhour put it in their paper entitled “Framework for Sharing Teacher Practices“, Person-Based Knowledge:

Teachers themselves are resources for one another. They work together to coordinate curricula within and between grade levels and subjects. They mentor new teachers, and advise one another collegially on a variety of ad hoc problems. And more broadly, people throughout a school’s local community are resources for teachers.

I find this a very important and refreshing reminder that getting teachers to teach, and share their experiences allows me to step back and facilitate, not just mediate their experiences with blogs or Hapara. It also helps them create their own analogies and narratives for how the program, and new shift in culture will play out in their own experiences. Again, from Carroll, Rossen, and Dunlap & Isenhour:

“As suggested in the environmental science scenario, it is often useful to have access to multiple representations of a complex information system. In this sense, our frameworks for sharing knowledge are analogous to having multiple views of a program in a software development environment or multiple visualizations of a data set in multivariate statistics. Our investigations of this approach to supporting knowledge management will accordingly also bear on the understanding of the more general design pattern of providing multiple data views in information systems.”

So, as I head into my Adviser-leader meeting this afternoon, I will endeavor to let them take the lead, and I will follow behind, supporting, picking up pieces, and nudging along those that are diverging too much.

Last month I conducted a survey of those teachers that I lead, and I have to say that the response was very positive. Scoring consistently in the 4+ range (out of 5) in categories of “support”, “being heard”, “providing supporting research”, and “communicating concerns” I was very please with what this told me about the community that I am creating within my Adviser-leaders, and that the success of the program is starting to gain a momentum of its own. More blogging, more spontaneous blogging, and more interaction. I see these as all positive signs of success. I see my role as putting the pieces in place, and leading the proverbial horse to water… But what I think I have changed most in my approach (and I’m not saying I’m totally there yet) is I’ve added a large dose of patience to my leadership.

Not to be confused with lower expectations, but rather a focus on quality of understanding, I have reduced my outcomes for the end of the year, and increased my expectations on depth of adoption by my Adviser-leaders. In this way, I am hoping that the start to 2013-2014 will have significant momentum in the tank to take off and start strong. I’m hoping that all the right pieces will be in place, and so will the Adviser-leaders!

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