I’m not very good with New Year resolutions.
One year I declared, in front of an adorable group of 24 second graders, that I will be quitting the consumption of coffee and all forms of caffeine for an entire year. My students rallied around me and supported me as I hesitantly scribbled this promise onto our “resolution wall.” I had 24 witnesses. 24 kids looking up to me to keep this promise all year long.
And I did! I quit drinking that cup of coffee (okay several cups of coffee) every morning (and at recess). In addition, I quit drinking Coke and Dr. Pepper. And… I was doing great!
But I began to miss having a soda now and then when we went out to restaurants for dinner. So I found root beer. In fact, I became great at distinguishing the various flavors of differing brands. You could probably imagine how surprised I was when at the end of 2013, after surviving an entire year of keeping my resolution promise of no caffeine, I learned that my favorite brand of root beer, Barq’s, is caffeinated!
So there you go… I’m not very good at resolutions even when I think I am.
However, I can do the “one word” thing. One word to focus on for an entire year. In fact, after having suffered yet another resolution failure in 2013 I decided to do just one word in 2014. I chose to focus on “create.” It ended up being a fitting word for me as I chose to leave the classroom for the 2014-15 school year to help my district “create” and build a new innovative school.
This year, for 2015, my new word is:
I have always been a strong believer in the power of collaboration. Successful schools thrive when collaboration is the central focus. Here is why:
- Collaboration requires empathy. When working in collaborative environments it is important to understand what other people are thinking and feeling to fully understand how to work together. Everyone approaches situations and problems with their background, point of view, and life experiences. Being able to stop and listen to what others are saying and not saying helps to feed a positive collaborative environment.
- Collaboration also requires patience. When working as a team it takes time to make collaborative decisions. That is okay. Taking time to make the right decision is always better than rushing to a decision just to be done.
- Collaboration brings about a well-rounded understanding of how things work best. “Together we are smarter.” This is so true!
- Collaboration requires flexibility. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to in a collaborative environment. But that is okay. Knowing everyone had a say and much thought was put into a decision is just as important.
This year’s adventure of creating a new innovative school is highly collaborative. In fact, I’m learning so much this year from all of the people with whom I have had the opportunity to collaborate with. So many unexpected networks and friendships have formed.
So far this is who I have had the opportunity to collaborate with:
- Colin Hanel, a fifth grade teacher who was also hired this year to help create our school. We share a cubicle. Yes! A cubicle. Now this is very different for us. We are used to having our own classrooms full of students. But working closely together and not always agreeing on everything has pushed both of our thinking.
- Our new District Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, and Assistant Superintendent
- Escondido Union School District Board Members
- My amazing boss, Kathy Shirley, Director of Technology Innovation
- Edtech TOSA team, to help brainstorm 1:1 technology innovation
- Technology Services Team, to ensure the infrastructure is ready
- Fiscal Services, to plan the budget
- Health and Wellness coordinator, to think about grants we could apply for to help our students focus on being healthy
- Nutrition Services, to learn about the best time to schedule PE! They advised the best time for PE is right before lunch. We also discussed how we can create gardening program that will provide food for our cafeteria and if it is possible to use the cafeteria kitchen to support a cooking class.
- Human Resources, to work on the hiring process for our founding principal and future staff
- Maintenance and Operations, to discuss possible changes to the current building
- Purchasing, to order innovative furniture
- Language Acquisition Department, to help with the translating of flyers and to help translate during the many parent workshops we have coming up
- Innovative schools in the area like Design 39 Campus, Vista Innovative Design Academy, Del Lago
- My PLN on Twitter whenever a questions arises
With many more opportunities for future collaboration with:
- members of the Escondido community
- parents of Escondido children
- local business owners
- future staff members
- ELD TOSA Team, for future planning of English Language Development for our students
I am sure I have unintentionally left someone off of that list. But as you can see…
It takes a community to build a school.
It takes collaboration to build a school.
To learn more about the school I am helping to create visit our website: QA.eusd.org