I belong to a Principals’ Learning Network (PLN). About every month a group of six, grades 7 – 12 administrators, meet with Dr. Steven Katz along with two of our superintendents. The goal of our time together is to collectively work through individual problems of practice and learn from each other. These meetings can be challenging, informative, slightly uncomfortable, and are often peppered with laughter. Long after walking away from the meeting I still find myself reflecting upon and turning over questions anew in my mind.
Today Dr. Katz suggested that our meetings could be thought of as if we are taking a course about highly specialized leadership. The problems of practice that we present are indeed stumpers. There are things that we share that we don’t know how to solve. The good news is that we are together in our learning. At the end of each session I have a good idea of the next move that I will make in order to chip away at my focus area. I have also learned valuable take-away information that I can apply to my own practice from listening to, and asking questions about, the challenges that my peers face.
As I reflect upon the experience I had this afternoon I find myself wondering if this same thing happens for students after they leave the classroom? Are they still thinking about the discussion and their next step when the school day is over? Are they learning from the challenges that their peers are facing?
When I deconstruct the things that happen at the PLN that make the meeting so successful for my learning I can list the following things:
1. There is a challenge that I am working to overcome.
2. It is urgent that I solve it.
3. It has important implications for my day to day work.
4. I am not alone in tackling the challenge.
I am fortunate to be a teaching vice principal. This afternoon I find myself reflecting about my own classroom experience with students. Is it challenging? Is it urgent that the young people in front of me figure this out? Does it have real-life implications for them? And finally, can they work it out together? Hmmm.
What if I made this a little checklist that I put at the end of my day plan and I self-assessed every day? Hmmm. Would I need a four out of four to be successful or would one out of four be enough for now? Hmmm.
Would students walk away wondering more? For me, it is worth a shot and I might just let you know how it is going! 😃
Yours in learning,