Thursday, 23 August 2018

Knowing Me, Knowing You.

I am currently relocating for the 29th time in 28 years of marriage, so I am familiar with change and living in new locations. At the end of February this year, I began a new role in a new school. Here I was known as a parent first, not as an educator. Starting in a new school means many teachers don’t know who you are, your beliefs, passions or purpose. While the content or role is similar to my previous one, the context is new. In education, context is key and relationships are crucial. With my coaching experience, I hope to build many relationships in my new context, but they take time and a conscious effort. If there was one thing I’d like the staff to know about me it is that I’m an advocate for teacher voice, agency and capacity building. I suppose the educators who read my blog posts or follow me on Twitter already know this about me. In my role, I share my purpose through informal conversations, organised professional learning opportunities and coaching. I hope to build trusting relationships, like those I’ve developed through my professional learning network (PLN).

This week I attended a meeting for ‘Leaders of Accreditation Network‘ (LAN), where we discuss the accreditation process of NESA and ISTAA. At this meeting I was introduced to someone who said, ‘Oh I know you, well I feel I know you. I heard your story at #RWLN (Renaissance Women Leader’s Network)’. I was humbled. The next day I attended the ACEL conference, 'Teachers Leading Educational Reform’, with Professor Alma Harris and Dr Michelle Jones. After attending and participating in this event, I have many questions for Australian educators regarding building collaboration not cooperation or delegation...
  • Why do we move teachers every few years (typically 3 yrs), place them into a new grade/stage level and ask them to collaborate?
  • If we accept that Collaboration is complex, why do we assume all teachers will collaborate because research says it is effective?
  • Does culture eat strategy for breakfast? 
  • Is collaboration mandatory in your school? 
  • Are teachers told to be part of a Professional Learning Communities or is this optional? 
  • What are your PLCs based on? 
  • Are coaches facilitating the learning in these collaborative groups? 
  • Are the executives/leaders the facilitators? 
  • How is teacher agency and voice evident? 
  • What comes first, culture or PLCs?
  • If collaboration and collective efficacy are powerful and effective, do schools protect and value allocated time for this?
I was so fortunate to to meet people who I have connected with on Twitter at this event. In one of the activities, I had to point to someone I’d like to chat with and I recognised Maria Serafim from her Twitter profile. To be honest, I really wanted to meet her and talk pedagogy. We chatted about Twitter and education and the conversation flowed so easily. I felt I knew her. Twitter provides you an opportunity to get to know someone professionally, but I also think it provides some insight into their personality too. It was amazing to speak with her and I hope we have the opportunity to connect again. I ended my day chatting with Thelma from Rooty Hill. Thelma and I talked about social justice and how teachers can make a difference. I had met Thelma last year when I spent a day at Rooty Hill High School. Kindly invited by the influential Chris Cawsey, I was fortunate to meet many of the staff there and I learnt a great deal from this experience. Although, most educators appreciate Twitter as a place to find resources, learn from others and share their thoughts and beliefs, it can be a springboard that helps create good friendships.

As my school has just become a NESA endorsed provider,  I recently attended a NESA workshop to learn more about eTams. We were asked to introduce ourselves and it was amazing to hear how many people knew others from various schools. Towards the end of the workshop, a woman beside me, Sarah mentioned that she follows me on Twitter. She then proceeded to tell me that I had attended the Growth Coaching Course with her husband, Jon. Talk about 6 degrees of separation! I really enjoyed our brief conversation and we hope to catch up again soon. I wonder ....would we have spoken to each other without the platform of Twitter? 

Blogging, TeachMeets and Twitter are great catalysts for developing relationships. You can really get to know people and they can get to know you, as this past week has shown. When you are in a new context, it can be difficult for others to ascertain your beliefs, passion and purpose. I will continue to focus on building relationships and trust, by having informal conversation, listening deeply and coaching where possible. This is how I will get to know my colleagues and they will get to know me. 

I bet you have ABBA singing in your head at the moment…sorry about that!



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  2. I really like your point about subtly enforced collaboration. It can be so easy to say 'let's all collaborate'. The problem I have found is that unless people see where they fit in with it or benefit then it can really flop. I have written about this more (

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