As a person who was a life long learner before I knew it was a good thing, I have always spent my time and personal monies to increase my understanding of my work, regardless of whether it was in education or my previous career in finance.
To that end, I recently signed up as a member of NJPSA’s Leadership Cohort 6. As with all things, I’m never really sure whether I will learn anything really meaningful when I spend $700, but I must write that I was pleasantly surprised.
The first of the cohort’s five meetings on August 6, was led by Dr. John Bormann, Superintendent of Rumson School District, NJ. As I write this, I struggle to express how refreshing it was to have an instructional leader speaking to aspiring administrators and first/second year administrators without the educational babble. He gave us real roadmaps for implementing PLCs for unpacking standards to tighten the vertical alignment of our curricula; how to implement Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) work that leads to construction of common assessments that result in meaningful grade-wide and school-wide data leading to real instructional change.
The hours I spent in this professional development have added a new dimension to my ability to implement meaningful educational change.
Don’t misunderstand. Teaching is a second career for me. In my previous career, I was hired for my ability to implement corporate visions and bring new ideas to teams of people who needed to adjust to the merger/acquisition that brought in new leadership. My job was to expand our community and bring new people together into new and stronger teams.
This is not unlike accepting a new administrative position. I know how to bring someone’s vision to light. I know how to bring teams together. I know how to add value by being a critical thinking member of the team to make the implementation successful while supporting the mission and vision.
But the roadmap for implementing PLCs in an educational environment was something I didn’t know how to do.
Before August 6, I didn’t understand how to lay the groundwork to successfully implement common assessments. I couldn’t really understand why department chairs can’t just ‘command’ that common assessments be constructed because I didn’t know why having a tight curriculum was a critical component of that process. Or how important it is that each grade level completely understand the standards at their grade level as well as before and after their grade level. I didn’t know how to teach teachers how to modify their instruction to bring their students’ critical thinking levels to new heights and depths.
As I reflect on my decision to be part of this cohort, I feel more and more sure that it will be time really well spent. I also think it reveals why leadership doesn’t end at your own front door. Leadership should go on so the talents that took leaders to the top don’t remain locked away with them. Leaders who are able to make meaningful educational change should be willing to step forward so others can benefit from and build upon their learnings. I am grateful Dr. Bormann chose to do so.
Video of Dr. Norman Webb explaining his new model for learning.
(YouTube, July 1, 2014)