Everyone knows the usefulness of the useful…”
– Chuang Tzu
[Note: Please see the Introduction and Diagnostic, Part 1, and Part 2, in the previous blog posts before using the material in this post.]
It’s a Journey Not a Destination
It is a commitment to focus on collective efficacy and on teacher teams and their capacity. It is a mindset to keep the attention on building people and maintaining teams. Leaders of schools and teams must have a steady hand with these beliefs in mind to find lasting success with developing and building teams.
It will likely not be an overnight success with having conversations that help expand people’s thoughts and understanding about the way schools, students and learning function. It will no doubt be a process to develop them first as individuals then as a team. But, no matter the details, the process is sound.
Making the commitment to develop people, to build their capacity, to expand conversations, focus on improved collective efficacy, impact teaching, and of course improve student learning are the most important things an educational leader can facilitate. And, a crucial component of having the meaningful and real conversations is that relational trust is built on dialogue like this.
Even if it seems to take a long time, it is worth it. The sustained gains will last long beyond the meeting itself. There is a compounding effect to building people, building relational trust and stretching their understanding of themselves, the students and the school. And, as always, don’t forget, you never arrive at the destination of having everyone being professionally developed with a common conversation.
This is all about the journey. It’s about hosting and facilitating conversations that can change perspectives. Build trust. Change practice. Change capacity. Change schools. It may not always look pretty or that it is making the dent you think it should. No matter. Just keep going anyway. The process matters. The conversations matter.
For the Team Leader – Keep Notes on the Planning and Preparation
As you learn the preferences of the team keep careful notes. Refer back to your notes before every meeting and for the next year. Be sure to keep notes not just on content issues but also on delivery and team dynamics. Anything you can do to help facilitate the learning and make it better for the team the deeper your conversations will be. This leads to better teacher and school performance overall. These things all make an impact on student learning. Sometimes they are small, subtle movements and other times there is significant, rapid movement. Either way, keep notes on the details that made it work best for your team.
For the Team Leader – Accountability on the Action Plan and In-between Meetings
A key component to this EAA protocol of trust-building dialogue is the accountability of doing things in between meetings. Each dialogue should conclude with a small action plan of things to accomplish in the next month. Tasks can and should be spread around to be sure that no one is overloaded. The point of it all is to encourage people to try and put things into action that were discussed in the meeting and agreed upon in the action plan.
Continue the Trek
As discussed above, one the most important things to always keep in mind is to not stop. There is too much at stake to give up or abandon the task of building the learning network of a team and in particular building relational trust. There is unity, common language, and common purpose in having collaborative dialogue.