In my current situation as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I am charged with ensuring quality programs and learning experiences for all students, Pre-K-12. My biggest challenge right now is that the teachers in my district have not had stability in my position for nearly two years. They are jaded; they have heard that great things would be taking place and were willing to invest time and energy into things that were promised, but have not seen any follow through. In addition, they are starved; they are dying for some professional development that is meaningful, will enhance their daily classroom practice, is seamless in its implementation into the classroom, and will engage and motivate the unique students in classrooms today.
To add to the pool of frustration, my teachers are in their second year without a contract and negotiations have gone into arbitration. To put it simply, it's ugly out there. Teachers are disgruntled and feeling under appreciated and overworked. In addition, as in many other districts out there, there is a huge disconnect and feelings of inequality between buildings and levels (elementary, middle school, and high school). To complicate the matter further, there are feelings of animosity not only between buildings, but within buildings as well.
So...my biggest hurdle right now is building collegiality. Thank God for my PLN and my DLN to help me in this momentous task. I've recently begun the process of joining Communities for Learning and I am so excited to have this support to help me on my quest of building collegiality and establishing an atmosphere of supportive collaboration throughout my district. I long to create a learning community "in which participants embrace the privilege and responsibility of learning individually and collectively. " I want to inspire teachers to increase their expertise and share that success with other teachers in an atmosphere where they feel safe and inspired to do so. I believe that, only through building collegiality and fostering an atmosphere of sharing experiences, teachers can come to understand teaching and learning to a point that transcends the limitations of their unique individual perspectives.
How do I go about building this collegiality among teachers, departments, and individual schools in my district? I have some ideas and I'm hoping that my membership in Communities for Learning will direct me and support me in bringing those ideas to fruition. But I would appreciate any suggestions you might have to help me as well. How do you attempt to bring people, who have a history of not working together, to join in conversations to move your building or district forward for the sake of the children you serve?
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