Have you ever taken a chance on something and wondered, what will happen?
Last winter Mark Smith, Executive Director of MACUL, reached out to a few administrators and educational leaders in Michigan. Mark had a vision and needed others to help bring the idea to life.
Mark’s vision centered around on-going communication and support, along with continuous learning. From this broad idea came two new creations. The first, SIG Admin, is designed to be the bridge between MACUL and You. SIG Admin will have monthly communication and learning opportunities designed to assist leaders across the state. Second, the Leadership Mindshare! This flagship event took place on August 4-5, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Leadership Mindshare is unlike any learning and leadership conference you’ve ever participated in.
The retreat was set into 4 “pillars” or educational supports that are critical in education. These pillars were Critical Conversations, Strategy, Innovation and Support. Dr. Mark Wilson, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Kennesaw State University, presented a keynote address on the first two pillars. He also came in 2 days early to work with the SIG Admin Leadership to help create direction and focus for the group. After each keynote, the participants divided into groups of 8 with a facilitator and had 60-80 minutes to discuss what they had just heard as well as bring up topics, ideas and thoughts that came from the keynote.
A popular phrase often spoken is, “The smartest person in the room, is the room.” During one particular breakout this became extremely evident. The focus of the breakout was on Critical Conversations. As the group began sharing you could see the support for one another, but more importantly it was easy to see this was a building of a learning network and a non-judging zone. Listening to people talk about the challenges of state assessment scores, unsupportive families, critical co-workers and difficult circumstances made it evident that we all need to support each other and avoid the infamous Administrative Island!
One leader shared a particularly tough story. During the course of the year he believed the atmosphere at his school was healthy and strong. People were collaborating and parents were frequently making positive comments to staff members. Then as the school year began to wrap up he was confronted by a disgruntled staff member who made it very easy to doubt all the good that had potentially occurred. The gentleman reflected on his self-doubt, his insecurities and he openly wondered if he was truly doing a good job. As our group sat and listened you could see the genuine care and empathy that we felt. The fact is, in some way we’ve all been there, but more importantly, we all want to lift each other up and help.
The Leadership Mindshare was a rousing success! This was the only learning event that I’ve ever attended where ALL voices were actively engaged. It was impossible to take part in Mindshare and not listen, reflect and share. The 2nd Annual Leadership Mindshare is already in the works. We hope you will save the date for July 25-26, 2017. SIG-Admin will be sharing more details soon as it refers to Leadership Mindshare ‘17.
The final piece of the Leadership Mindshare is two-fold. This year we were privileged to have Mark Wilson, Dr. Brad Gustafson and Amber Teamann lead our keynotes. These three not only led the conversations, but they also inspired and motivated the audience.
At the end of the event, SIG Admin aimed to continue the learning. Every participant was provided contact information, twitter handles and pictures of attendees. The power of Mindshare is in the sharing. Our hope is that people continue to reach out and network with others. Remember, the smartest person in the room, is the room!
For some visual insight into Leadership Mindshare check out the following link:
Brad Gustafson’s 30-Second Take live from Leadership Mindshare, https://t.co/7ExjbGaQlA.
Article originally published in the Fall 2016 MACUL Journal.
Theresa Stager (@): Assistant Principal at Saline High School, co-creator of the PrincipalPLN podcast, co-author of Breaking Out of Isolation: Becoming a Connected School Leader, and SIG ADMIN Director