M2D9: Communication and Collaboration (Leadership II)

Today was a better day, mostly because I spent a chunk of it in meetings (Zoom, of course) with people I enjoy. We talked about usual things, some of which we would talk about at the end of any school year. We laughed and brainstormed and supported one another. Chopping wood, carrying water. It was also good to read that I have plenty of company in “hitting a wall” this week.

The first leadership topic I want to address is communication. Not coincidentally, it is what I was doing today and what I do most days. Early in the semester, we read Collaborative Practices for Educators: Six Keys to Effective Communication. It’s a pretty quick read, as it’s basically a compendium of communication strategies. The most interesting aspect of the book, for me, was that it contrasted how we (as educators) communicate with kids and how we tend to treat other adults. Even for someone who has had adults as “students” for nearly 20 years, a number of these were eye-opening. For instance, with kids we usually recognize that they’ll have the occasional bad day, while we sometimes act like every day is the same for adults.

Since we’re supposed to identify strengths, I think I’m pretty good at clearly communicating information by email, in other writing, and in professional development settings. I work to gauge prior understanding and meet participants where they are. “Six Keys” helped me to become a better collaborator, especially in terms of asking questions and setting/developing expectations. I put these skills to work in gifted education primarily in my work with school and district gifted coordinators. They are my teammates/collaborators and my students. They are doing the “heavy lifting” of gifted education in their setting, but it’s my responsibility to help them know what is expected and how to access resources and best practices.

I think the pandemic and the all-virtual, all-the-time situation we find ourselves in may ultimately improve communication. We are habituating to checking in with one another when we start calls, emails, and meetings, and we definitely recognize that everyone is going to have tough days in the midst of “all this.” With any luck—or effective intention—we can maintain this awareness in the new normal we’ll someday find.

Tonight we watched World Ride Online Movie Night, with five films about women’s mountain biking, to benefit biking opportunities for women worldwide. It’s kind of amazing how many interesting things like this are popping up. It appears, pre-pandemic, that a few of these movie nights were scheduled in select towns. I know that the main film we wanted to see, I Just Want to Ride, the story of Lael Wilcox’s most recent ride in the Tour Divide Race, had a showing two hours away in Salida a few months back. We would not have had the opportunity to see it, or the other four films (including one about the iconic Hot Tomato Pizza in Fruita), in a physical location, so I’m happy to have this opportunity. Plus, at $10 for the one ticket we needed to project it onto our TV, it’s a bargain for curated entertainment.

Finally, LEGO. I learned today that, unless you are going to go all official and say LEGO® brand building bricks, the plural of LEGO is LEGO. There’s actually a LEGO Glossary. There may be others, but that’s the one I stumbled across.

Day 6 in the Advent Calendar is a Christmas Tree. Simple, nice. And evergreens are always in season, right?

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