These are my people.

These are my people.

These people.

They inspire me every day to try to become a better leader,

the leader they deserve.

They are brave.

They are creative.

They are smart.

They are skeptics.

They are hard workers.

They are crazy fun.

They are problem solvers.

Their smiles and good mornings

make every day the best day of the week.

They have the biggest heart for students.

I am so humbled that they chose me to be their principal.

They have given me wings,

they give each other wings,

and they give our students wings.

Thank you Q-Crew,

because with you by our side,

the sky is the limit.

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Collaboration is not created by the arrangement of desks.

Collaboration is not created by the arrangement of desks.

Collaboration is not created by the arrangement of the desks.

When Doug Reeves made this statement at a Literacy Leadership Symposium I attended recently, I pictured one particular classroom in my mind. One where the desks are arranged in rows, yet I often walk in to find students with heads together in spots around the room, learning together.

Doug said that having classrooms arranged with desks in pods does not necessarily mean that collaboration is happening. Just like having desks arranged in rows does not necessarily mean that collaboration is not happening.

So, how do we create a culture of collaboration in a classroom? In a school?

Collaboration happens when

two or more people share ideas with each other and

build on their ideas and learning

based on what they hear from one another.

The little ideas they started with begin to grow

as they add to each other’s learning,

and before they know it,

their ideas are completely transformed

into something greater than they ever imagined.

Fake collaboration exists. It happens when we push desks together and call it collaboration. It happens when we change the name of our staff meeting to “Staff Collaboration Time” yet the leader still does all of the talking. It happens when one person dominates the conversation and others are not able to share ideas. It happens when we hand kids a worksheet and tell them they can work on it with a partner and call that collaboration.

Yet, real collaboration is alive and well in many schools and many classrooms.

What does it take to really collaborate?

  • Relationships, so there is trust and vulnerability
  • Valuing everyone’s ideas
  • Time together
  • The ability to NOT crawl up on the table with your idea
  • Transparency about the values and biases you bring to the group
  • An action plan for the next steps

Creating the conditions for collaboration takes modeling from the classroom or school leader and it takes a commitment from all group members. It is pretty easy to convince others that we are better together, but it does take some work to define how collaboration really happens. And then, once we create a culture of collaboration, we must constantly improve our work together because if we aren’t improving, we are declining.

Heads together excitedly sharing thoughts and ideas with an end result that surpasses expectations.

That is collaboration.

Want to see Quincy Elementary teachers collaboration in full creative force? Watch THIS

Image source HERE

Author’s note: Attending Adaptive Schools training has helped me reflect on my skills as a group member and as a group leader. Dr. Brandi-Lyn Mendham brought Adaptive Schools into our district and having this training together has set the stage for collaboration like we have never experienced before. To learn more, visit  http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/seminars/adaptive-schools-seminars/

Are you running on empty? Or, does your tank overflow?

Are you running on empty? Or, does your tank overflow?

When I talk with people about TV series that I watch, I never get asked questions like:

“How do you have time to watch television?”

“You don’t get paid to watch TV, so why do you do it?”

Yet, when I talk with people about blogging, Twitter chats, the Facebook Live show my friend and I just started, etc. I am often met with questions like:

“How do you have time for writing and tweeting? I could never find time for that.”

“You don’t get paid to host a Facebook Live show or to write blog posts, so why do you do it?”

The other day, I watched this video adapted from Daniel Pink’s talk about motivation. This information about what really motivates people has so many implications, from helping me understand the methods behind my madness to helping all of us understand how to help students feel motivated to learn.

To explain my madness, let’s picture a big tank, like a propane tank. Except that it is not filled with propane, it is filled energy.

Everything you do adds to the tank or takes away from the tank.

The things you love to do, that you are passionate about, fill the tank. For me, things like getting creative, trying new things, making someone’s day, helping others, and being playful fill my tank.

The things you don’t like to do but feel like you have to do, take fuel out of your energy tank. For me, doing paperwork or the dishes, remembering the five thousand things I need to pack in the car before I leave the house, and dealing with selfishness are energy depleters.

How often do you fill your tank?

How often do you something you absolutely love to do?

How often do you pursue something with excited curiosity?

When you wish time would stop because you are having so much fun?

How often do you empty your tank?

How often do you plop down on the couch at the end of the day, bleary-eyed and feeling sad for no particular reason?

How often are you doing things you don’t like to do, rushing through the task as quickly as possible?

When you wish the minutes away instead of enjoying them?

Are you running on empty, or does your tank overfloweth?

What about our students?

How many opportunities do they have to fill their tanks? Things they explore with excited curiosity, where they want time to stop because they love it so much?

How many tank-depleting tasks does a typical student have to do in a day?

How does the fullness of their tank relate to their enjoyment of school?

What happens when a student’s tank runs out?

Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.

-Yo Yo Ma

Check out my latest tank-filler, with my friend Jon Wennstrom: https://www.facebook.com/allyson.apsey/videos/176185766263933/