In case you missed the #suptchat on Twitter last night, the PAPER team is here to provide you with a comprehensive wrap-up.
Leadership is a journey — one that can’t be taken alone. All leaders are a product of the guidance and support they receive from those who came before them; it’s their duty to ensure that support is passed on to those who will come after them.
This was the focus of this month’s #suptchat — Connect to Get Better. Participants came together to discuss the following: Leadership as a journey, listening, building relationships, showing gratitude to mentors and coaches, improving students’ journeys, self-care, building diverse networks, and more.
In the spirit of connecting with and learning from one another, PAPER will soon be hosting a live discussion series to foster dialogue and peer-to-peer learning between superintendents across the country. We will be announcing our incredible lineup of district leaders in the coming days. So stay tuned, folks!
Q1: When you think of leadership as a journey — who is your co-pilot?
Unsurprisingly, most #suptchat participants said thanks to fellow educators from their respective district: From board members, to administrative teams, and to staff members.
A1: I have many copilots on my leadership journey, but I am grateful 4 amazing district & campus leaders who have been flexible, nimble, and prepared to pivot in these unprecedented times. #LeadershipMatters especially during a crisis! (New vocab used intentionally) #suptchat— Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney (@drgoffney) October 8, 2020
A1 - My co-pilot's are currently my administrative teams, faculty and staff who pitch in and help without having to be asked. #suptchat— jgreenmc (@JGreenmc) October 8, 2020
Many others claimed their partner as their #1 co-pilot.
A1: My husband has been the co-pilot on my leadership journey. He holds down the fort at home, supports me 100%, and gives up his free time & drives long distances to attend @nccusd events with me. #suptchat— Yesenia Sánchez (@YesyMSanchez) October 8, 2020
A1:— Dr. Bill Chapman (@Dr_Chap_PISD) October 8, 2020
I really think a lot of your Co-Pilots change over time - from mentors, coworkers, classmates, peers - but honestly, my wife is probably my biggest Co-Pilot, as she is always there to keep me flying straight. #suptchat
A very unique and interesting take on what co-pilots are:
A1: I think of copilots a bit differently. A really solid strategic vision can do the tasks of copilots: checking on direction, speed, intangibles you are forgetting. #suptchat— Thomas Van Soelen (@tvansoelen) October 8, 2020
Q2: How do you focus on being a great listener in order to build important relationships?
There was a lot of sage advice shared in response to this question. Nearly all answers indicated that being a good listener is a skill that no one has perfected, and the majority are continuously working on improving.
A2: Being a good listener is something I am constantly working to do better. When I am at my best, I listen for what the person needs from me in that moment, rather than how they are making me feel. It can lead to self-reflection for both of us. #suptchat— Susan Enfield (@SuptEnfield) October 8, 2020
A2: Sometimes there are a million things going on and I need to remind myself that the person that I am talking to deserves to be treated like they are the most important person in the world. I would want that from them. #suptchat— Dr. Deanna Oliver (@DeannaDoliver) October 8, 2020
Here are some tactical steps one can take to be a better listener, according to these leaders:
A2: Look the person in the eyes, avoid distractions, and give them your full attention. Nothing says, "I don't care" more than looking at your phone/computer in the middle of a conversation. #suptchat— Scott McAlister (@ScottMcAlister5) October 8, 2020
A2. When trying to be a good listener, the one thing I try to do is ignore the impulse to think about what my rebuttal is going to be and fully engage to the point where I can ask a follow up question to the person speaking. This forces me to actively listen. #suptchat— Mark Hettmansberger (@SuptMark) October 8, 2020
Q3: In what ways has coaching supported you through tough times?
Every single participant last night was grateful for the guidance, support, and encouragement that they have received from coaches throughout their careers — especially when it came to making difficult decisions over the last year.
A3: Coaching has supported me this past year when making tough decisions regarding schedules, reopening plans, or an angry stakeholder. If I didn't have people to turn to and ask for advice I do not know what I would have done. #suptchat— Kate Kwasny (@KwasnyKate) October 8, 2020
#suptchat A3: Being able to call helpful friends with no bias, judgment, or power over you other than friendship has helped me to rethink and revise many decisions, while also reaffirming my heartfelt ones— Todd Dugan (@tdugan75) October 8, 2020
A3: I am blessed with the best supt friends in the industry and I am so thankful for the guidance, support, and encouragement that I have received from current and former superintendents. Feedback is a gift especially from those who are facing similar challenges! #suptchat— Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney (@drgoffney) October 8, 2020
Good leaders know that they need to be both independent and dependent — not one or the other.
A3: I had the great gift of working with an executive coach for a few years and it was incredibly helpful. Seeking help and investing in your own growth is a sign of strength, not weakness. An incredibly important reminder in this moment. #suptchat— Susan Enfield (@SuptEnfield) October 8, 2020
Q4: How are you dealing with the stress of your work and the world right now?
#Suptchat participants recognized that no matter how easy it can be to delay self-care in the face of chaos, it’s important to care for yourself while caring for your school community.
A4 - Confession - I am learning to embrace self care! I definitely need accountability in this area. I am thankful that I made a decision in May to change my nutrition and now I must find an activity or hobby so that I can be a #fitsupt #suptchat— Dr. LaTonya M. Goffney (@drgoffney) October 8, 2020
A4: I am protecting my sleep! Meditating before going to sleep has been a great addition our bedtime routine. #suptchat— Yesenia Sánchez (@YesyMSanchez) October 8, 2020
A4: I try to get outdoors as often as possible and connect with nature & calmness! I also write myself positive notes and post them all around. #suptchat https://t.co/3O1zWUBOyK pic.twitter.com/RQ6GmUnSdp— Khechara Bradford (@khechara) October 8, 2020
A4: it is impossible not to let the stress get to you some days. I am committed to exercising and eating well and relying on the people I love for support. Practicing gratitude helps immensely as well. #suptchat— Susan Enfield (@SuptEnfield) October 8, 2020
Q5: Give a shout-out to a mentor of yours and what s(he) means to you?
Q5 was bound to generate a torrent of heartfelt tweets about those who helped district leaders become who they are today: by always picking up the phone, by pushing them to be bolder and better, by setting an example of how to lead.
A5: I stand on the shoulders of so many mentors @DrDBL Johnnie Barber; Aldo Sicoli; Frank Hernandez; Juanita Hoskins; @Supt_Swanson @RBLindsey41; @TrudyArriaga1 Leon Rodrigues & Florence Odegard. Thank you! #suptchat— STACIE STANLEY, EdD (@DrStacieStanley) October 8, 2020
A5 Dr. Jean Schmeichel was an amazing mentor at a pivotal point of my career...she taught me the importance of courage and to be comfortable with discomfort #suptchat— Dr. RJ Webber (@NoviAcademics) October 8, 2020
In return, some of these mentors responded with heartfelt shout-outs of their own.
You’ve earned everything on your own, my friend. I’m honored you mentioned me, but you’re in a class all your own.— Kevin Burr (@zebramidge) October 8, 2020
Idk. I think you mentored me all day long!— Erika Nielsen Andrew (@thenewready) October 8, 2020
Q6: How do you build a diverse network of colleagues to help you build empathy and serve all students?
As Dr. Bill Chapman put it, district leaders must seek the diverse perspectives of people from all backgrounds and experiences. “There is no way one individual can understand every issue/child is going though. By having people from all walks of life, you have a better chance of understanding different issues.”
A6: We all need to get engaged outside of our local/regional groups. Get involved with your state and national associations in order to build a broad, diverse network of colleagues. #suptchat— Nick Polyak (@npolyak) October 8, 2020
A6. This goes beyond having diverse collegial networks. As a transracial adoptive parent, I intentionally seek out diverse support networks across all aspects of my life (personally & professionally) and engage in ongoing equity work. #suptchat— Merryl Brownlow, Ed.D. (@MerrylBrownlow) October 8, 2020
A6: You have to be available to others and not be afraid of criticism or critique. You also need to be a good listener and be willing to engage in the conversation. Lastly, you need to return the favor when your colleagues need the same from you! #suptchat— jgreenmc (@JGreenmc) October 8, 2020
In this tumultuous year of increased isolation, many have plugged into online professional networks to build communities and share knowledge.
A6: For me, it has been through Twitter. The people I have "met" & followed have helped to round out my PLN and help me become more aware and of issues that are often overlooked or ignored. #Brimfield309 #BElite #suptchat— Tony (@Tony_Shinall) October 8, 2020
Q7: How are you helping your school or district interact with other districts across your state, the country, and the world?
Heightened levels of interaction between districts on a local and global scale this year have enabled leaders to share best practices and collaborate in creative ways:
A7: keeping in touch with other leaders has been big. Some great leaders in my neighborhood such as @WCUSD15Supt @Dan_Cox @HawkUp14 @213Warriors are amazing leaders. People like @MCC1970 who is a leader I respected state wide is important to take advice from! #suptchat— Ry Heavner (@Heavner7) October 8, 2020
A7: We try to join in advocacy efforts with other Districts who have similar needs across our State and Nation. Try to promote the message and connect with the appropriate stakeholders which could lead to change. #suptchat— jgreenmc (@JGreenmc) October 8, 2020
A7: We have set up sister school relationships with schools in China and we take students and staff on service trips every summer to Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and/or other countries. #suptchat— Nick Polyak (@npolyak) October 8, 2020
Q8: Students are on this journey too — what does success look like and where should students be at their end of their educational journeys in your district?
Superintendent Dan Cox tweeted that this crisis is making our students stronger: “They care about the world around them, they are civic minded, giving, and will never take the little things for granted again. I’m excited to see what they do!”
Preparing the incoming class of 2021 for timely graduation and post-secondary readiness is a serious responsibility — but with the right direction and resources, this resilient group can be set up for success.
A8. At the end of the elementary journey, our hope for our students is to be independent thinkers, equipped with the knowledge, skills and strategies to critically navigate a complex and diverse world with a solution focused lens. #suptchat— Merryl Brownlow, Ed.D. (@MerrylBrownlow) October 8, 2020
A8: Ready to engage in the world in whatever field they choose. Whether it be higher ed, military, trades, work force, or some combination of those. The best part: it is not the same for all kids. We owe it to them to make it as personal as we can. #Brimfield309 #BElite #suptchat— Tony (@Tony_Shinall) October 8, 2020
A8:Success for us will be getting more than 10% of our graduates to go onto some sort of college, university, technical school or job training, This could provide them with the ability to support a family and themselves. In the past reality and hope did not coincide! #suptchat— jgreenmc (@JGreenmc) October 8, 2020
Some closing remarks from #suptchat moderators:
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