“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”
– John C. Maxwell
This week the leadership team of North Shore School District 112 is engaged in learning, leading, thinking, planning, and reflection as we prepare for the new school year. Our first two days are facilitated and led by Mayra Cruz, the principal of Oyster Adams Bilingual School in Washington, D.C. Mrs. Cruz also works with the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL). Mayra is an exemplary facilitator. She has us thinking, challenging the process, listening, speaking, reading, writing, and growing as leaders. She has us scaffolding learning and deeply diving into excellent instruction.
What are the implications for my context?
I am the superintendent of schools in North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park and Highwood, IL. I am responsible to the seven members of the Board of Education, the nearly 4000 students in grades PK-8, the 30+ members of the Leadership Team, the community leaders, the community, the 80% of residents who do not use the schools and the 20% of residents who do. I am also responsible to the profession–the superintendency–locally, regionally, statewide, nationally, and even internationally.
My responsibility to support leadership development is ongoing and multi-faceted. After leading or attending professional development opportunities I takeresponsibility to spread the knowledge. I also am keen to facilitate additional or broader opportunities for leaders to practice and implement new knowledge and skills.
It’s also imperative that time is set aside for leaders to reflect and integrate new learning. It’s a fast paced world in which we live, lead and work. It’s essential to make time, find time, carve out time, create time for others even — to reflect and integrate newfound knowledge into leadership practices and routines. Professional development/learning also spreads from leader to leader.
From Tweets, Blogs, Voxes (all 21st Century “verbs” referring to social media connections). Communication forms whether new fashioned or old fashioned, or somewhere in between, help the knowledge go from learning to doing.
From learning to reflecting to doing. It’s an iterative process that incorporates sharing, refining, and improving. It’s incumbent upon me and my role to be sure that professional learning opportunities are aligned with the organizations’mission and vision. It’s also essential that I take the opportunities to observe andgive feedback to leaders who are leading. When leadership team members implement new learning in their departments and at their schools, it’s necessary and respectful for the “leader of the leaders” to be present, observant, and honest in the feedback.
Our outstanding facilitator Mayra Cruz used the “two glows and one grow” concept for two authentic praises and for one constructively critical feedback during our time together this week.
As the lead learner or the “Chief Learning Officer” CLO, I take great pride and feel great responsibility in supporting and advancing opportunities for professional learning that enhance and improve student and staff learning.