We Can’t Do It Alone and We Shouldn’t

By Josie Koivisto (@Eaglecreekers), Principal, Eagle Creek Elementary, Shakopee, MESPA South Suburban Division President Elect

Koivisto

We often talk about teachers being isolated or teaching in silos. We want to break down the silos and foster collaboration. We want them to share with each other, learn from each other and grow together. School administration is also isolating, but for different reasons. Being a school administrator can be a lonely job. You were a well-respected teacher with support from your team and then you crossed to the dark side. Many administrators are the only one in their school and some in their district, so they do not have a group to readily lean on like when they were a teacher. I encourage you to find ways to connect with other administrators to break down your silo, share with each other, learn from each other and grow together.

There are ways to connect with other administrators on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

Daily

  • Twitter: follow people or organizations. Many share inspirational quotes or ideas. They also share articles and resources.
    • To get started create a Twitter account (directions).
    • Find people or organizations to follow (search directions) and follow them. Start with @MEPSAprincipals and see a Twitter list of suggested follows from MESPA.
    • Begin scrolling through the posts, as you read more you find others to connect with and follow.
    • Once you are comfortable accessing Twitter and following others, start posting yourself (how to tweet).
  • Facebook: follow groups created by principals for principals. There are private groups you must ask to join. You can ask questions and share ideas or resources.
    • To get started, create a Facebook account (directions), and make sure you list your profession as principal or assistant principal and the name of your school, as many groups verify you before approving you to join.
    • Search for groups and ask to join. Here are two that I like:

Weekly

  • Twitter Chats: You can follow and participate in Twitter Chats with other principals – search by their hashtag, like #NAESPChat or #PIAchat (See mespa.net/backtoschool for more Twitter chats to follow).
  • If you have at least one other principal in your district, hold a weekly meeting to collaborate. Share ideas, problem-solve together, conduct book studies, and just listen. It’s important to connect. I am fortunate to be in a district with five elementary principals and one early childhood principal. We meet weekly for two hours to discuss new learning (book studies, PD, initiatives) and nuts/bolts (questions, mandates, sharing of non-curricular ideas).

Monthly

  • Read professionally
    • mespa.net
    • naesp.org
    • Books on topics of interest to you
    • ASCD has great books, articles and “The Principal Magazine”
    • Use the MESPA forum to connect or share ideas. It is created by Minnesota elementary principals for Minnesota elementary principals. Together we can!

A Few Times a Year

  • Attend your division meetings – Find your division information here. These are great meetings to connect with other administrators in your area of Minnesota. The meetings are set in the fall, so make a plan with your staff to make your attendance a priority. The connections made with other administrators at these meetings help you understand you are not alone, those issues happen to others, and give you hope that you are doing the right work. It’s hard work, but it’s the right work.

Yearly

  • Attend MESPA Winter Institute in February (February 6-8 this year)! Learning from other administrators in Minnesota and having time to network, meet new people, and connect with others you have not seen in a year is worth every minute. Start making plans today so you are able to leave your building for this event.
  • Attend Professional Development opportunities provided by MESPA. Great content, but also a great opportunity to connect with other administrators. The networking at professional development is positive and powerful.

We have 900+ administrators in Minnesota connected to MESPA. Use the resources and opportunities provided to connect with other administrators to break down your silo, share with each other, learn from each other and grow together. We don’t have to do this job alone and we shouldn’t.

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