We have spent the past year and a half physically distancing and strategizing the best protocols to keep our schools open. We have not only distanced children in our schools from each other but educators and families as well. After spending so much time figuring out how to stay apart from each other, how do we come together as a community to learn and grow our own practice?
An interesting study from 2012, conducted by Scholastic and the Gates Foundation, found that teachers spend only about 3 percent of their teaching day collaborating with colleagues. Although this study was focused on K-12 educators, it unfortunately highlights the fact that most teachers plan, teach and reflect on their practice alone. It seems that the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this feeling of isolation. We, at the Efshar Project, want to create opportunities for educators to learn from and with each other. We want to create a sustainable, trusting community of learners and leaders. We listened to our community of leaders and heard that building relationships across schools is a key element in growing one’s practice. With these goals in mind: building community, creating relationships, providing opportunities to reflect while giving tangible skills and strategies, we formed the Pedagogical Leaders Community of Practice.
Thirteen leaders from our member schools signed up to participate in the community of practice co-facilitated by Natalie Boscoe and Judi Morosohk. The participants’ positions in their respective schools range from classroom teacher, assistant director, office manager to director.
We are off to a great start. We have had one in-person session and one online session already and the group is busy rethinking the old way of doing things and creating opportunities and space for a new way. One participant, Kayla Chung, Early Childhood Educator at Rabbi Steven Foster Early Learning Center highlighted her experience so far in the group, saying:
“With the return this year to teaching at our respective learning contexts and still within the pandemic, as a pedagogical leader, it was really beautiful to have this opportunity through this Community of Practice to slow down and really understand my practice. I have loved getting to connect with other pedagogical leaders and to co-construct that culture of inquiry that is so valuable to our field. I am so excited to grow as a pedagogical leader and human alongside others who value lifelong learning, too!”
In addition to creating and building relationships, we are reading two books called From Teaching to Thinking: A Pedagogy for Reimagining our Work by Ann Pelo and Margie Carter and The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation by Elena Aguilar. The group is using these books to hone their leadership and coaching skills. The group is also creating an action research project. The group will be meeting once per month until June and can’t wait to share their learning with the community.
As Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every person. – Pirkei Avot 4:1