This past week I was able to spend two and a half days learning from some of the sharpest and brightest principals throughout the state of Texas as we concluded our year long principal’s institute through @n2learning. When I started this year long journey, consisting of six learning sessions, I had been told from past PIs (principal institute participants) how great of an experience this would be and how this would be the best professional learning experience I would ever have. You know what? They were right.
The wisdom I gleaned from interacting and getting to know principals, central office staff and superintendents from across the state of Texas was eye-opening and at times overwhelming, but more important than the knowledge I acquired, the networking and lasting relationships that have been established will carry me farther than even the wisest lesson I learned. You see, the principals selected to participate in this institute were not your typical principals. These PIs were not the quiet, conformists who do what they are told. These PIs rock the boat, do things differently and push the boundaries of what public education could and should be. These are the principals you want to learn from, these are the principals you want to work for and alongside of and these are the principals I am honored to call my colleagues and friends.
As I reflect on the last year’s worth of learning alongside these amazing building leaders, I find myself recalling three reminders that served me well:
- The smartest person in the room, is the room.
- You must go slow to go fast.
- If not you then who, and if not now then when?
The Smartest Person In The Room, Is The Room
Let’s face it. I am just one person. Yes, there are times I like to think I have it all figured out (which I do not) and yes, there are times I admittedly need support from colleagues. The room is a powerful thing. What I have learned this year is that you have to let the room know who you are, be willing to share what you know with the room and be willing to learn from others in the room. The collective wisdom within the group of principals I worked along side this year (otherwise known as PI5s) was humbling. I learned to ask questions and gain insight. I learned to listen to their feedback. I learned to make connections with colleagues allowing the room to be available to me 24 hours a day & 7 days a week through this powerful professional learning tool, called Twitter. Check it out! 😉
You Must Go Slow To Go Fast
@Roz_Keck our facilitator from @n2learning reminded us of this often. As we gathered for sessions and heard from incredible speakers such as Alan November, @Globalearner, Dr. Rob Evans, author of Seven Secrets of the Saavy School Leader or George Couros, @gcouros I wanted to run back to campus and share all of the great things I learned right away, but in the back of my mind I could hear Roz repeating, “You must go slow to go fast.” Yes, there were some things I could share right away, but building a culture of change or what we referred to as organizational transformation takes time. This shift does not happen over night and coming back excited and on fire can make the change process that much more difficult. After all, just because I was excited about it, does not mean others would be. It wasn’t until I was introduced to The Backwards Bicycle and this image that I better understood change and how teachers in my building took to change. There is a reason we need to go slow to go fast, but this image reminded me there may be a percentage of my teachers who are ready to go faster than others and those innovators and early adopters are there to help support the transformation.
If Not You Then Who And If Not Now Then When
|“Those Of Us Doing If Differently Are Changing Education”|
Former Superintendent and @n2learning partner Dr. Kathy Bryce would always share these inspiring words of wisdom as a call to action. We as public educators are quick to let our voices be heard when we do not agree with a policy or decision made by someone who may work above us or sometimes even at the state level, but at the end of the day, we are not always ready to be the change we are wanting to see. This call to action is a reminder that we cannot wait around hoping others change for us. If we want something to change, we are the ones who need to make it happen. If we wait around for others, how long will we be waiting? I have this image as the header on my Twitter account and each time the phrase “if not you then who and if not now then when” is shared it reminds me of the work we are doing and the change that is necessary for our students to be empowered learners. The risk we take to do it differently, while not always popular is blazing a trail for others to follow and making a positive impact in the lives of students who deserve education to change.
If you are interest in learning more about the change I am speaking about and the work done by past and future principals through the Texas Principals Visioning Institute, click here to review the work in the visioning document. I will warn you, it may just make you a better leader, teacher, educator & learner.
To my PI5 cohort, who taught me more this year than I would have ever dreamed, thank you. You challenged my thinking and your wisdom, friendship and inspiration will continue to serve as motivation to be brave enough to do things differently and challenge the thinking of others. We are just a tweet, email, text, phone call or vox away. To quote a line from one of my favorite actors, Denzel Washington, in the movie John Q, “It’s not good-bye…see you later.”