This past December I went to the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA) state conference. There, I was so inspired to begin thinking outside of the standard educational box. It was so refreshing and so invigorating given the data-driven world that education seems to be.

After the conference, I began to connect with people I met there and others, and to write and reflect. As a result of the learning at the conference, Twitter learning, blogging, reading George Corous’ Innovator’s Mindset, being in a Leverage Leadership (by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo) professional learning group, and using Marzano’s iObservation, I feel so excited about the possibilities to come for elementary education. I also feel overwhelmed at times and inadequate because we are just skimming the surface of those possibilities.

The biggest change that has happened as a result of this learning is within the conversations we are having as a staff. The professionals in our elementary school feel that our direction is a little off…that data is so important for student learning…but that it is not the ONLY thing that is important. We want students who are disappointed about a snow day, we want to challenge their thinking and empower them, we want to have fun and build relationships. Our conversations over the past few months have given us permission to dream again in that direction, and it breaths new life in us.

We are working to marry the two concepts and create a new “one” way of thinking…how can we empower students, have them love school, have teachers love school, and support their achievement so they can perform outstandingly on ANY assessment we put in front of them? How can we allow time for creativity and fun while making sure they learn the curriculum in a deep and meaningful way?

We don’t have the specific answers to those questions quite yet, but we do know that they live inside of the collective whole of us, and we just need to ask the right questions and have time for the collaboration. My job as a leader is to make time for the conversations, to listen and HEAR, to remove roadblocks, to be a positive source of energy, and to continue to model the vulnerability that is real and lives inside all of us. I also love them, love our students, and love our parents, which is a key catalyst to continuous improvement.

When I think back to a few months ago and reflect on all the learning squeezed into that little time, I can hardly believe it. It is a true testament to the power of being connected and being open, taking baby steps, and letting the heart of collaboration truly live in the collaboration.

Let us know…how do you think outside the box within the box? Let’s collaborate on Twitter: @allysonapsey

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5 thoughts on “Thinking Outside and Inside the Box

  1. Excellent post Allyson! I love how you stated that you didn’t have all the answers, but you are certainly asking all the right questions! It’s a journey and it sounds like you are leading your staff in the right direction. Thanks for sharing:)

    Jon

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  2. Great article Allyson. Thanks for sharing this out to others. I can totally relate that being around so much greatness is so inspiring and it can also be overwhelming! Thinking outside and inside the box is a great way to remember to bring BALANCE in what we do! We need to be careful not to get caught up on the never ending swinging pendulum that the field of education often puts out to schools.

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