People cannot imagine how I excited to start a new journey in my professional career. Back in April, I accepted an Instructional Design Facilitator (Coach) position in a District where every stakeholder believes every student deserves our best. I am blessed to work with a group of like-minded coaches who help teachers to develop their own problem-solving skills and grow as professionals. During our “Welcome Back Bootcamp Day”, our team participated in a series of highly collaborative sessions to get to know our group, prioritize things that we would juggle during the school year, and analyzing successful stories. For each of the sessions, we used a different protocol. Protocols are structured conversations that allow educators, coaches, instructional leaders to support adult learning in order to create transformational learning communities that develop teacher capacity in our campuses.
Although each of the protocols we used throughout the day allowed us to have deep conversations, which ultimately helped us in refining our skills, the Success Analysis Protocol made a powerful impact. We split into groups of four, and each of us wrote a description of a success story we had experienced in the previous school year. I immediately looked around and saw the rest of the team looking at each other as if they could read their minds. At some point during the previous school year, as coaches, they had identified a problem and engaged in a problem-solving process that ended up in a success story. What could I write about if I haven’t had the opportunity to experience that process, at least from my new role? I soon realized that although my professional title was that of a classroom teacher, I performed a different number of roles such as a teacher, coach, instructional leader, ELL advocate, and of course learner. I wrote down my success story and reflected upon what made it successful. In our small groups, after one person shared the story, the other three members would analyze what they heard and offer additional insights. Then, the person who had shared the story added a reflective piece regarding the analysis of the story. Once we told our success stories, we identified the common factors that made them successful. Some of the words or phrases that came up included: building relationships, seek connections, flexible thinking, celebrate success, use resources. Building trust takes time, but these are activities helped us create a safe environment, where we can be vulnerable and talk about the failures that lead to success. When debriefing what went well during the protocol, I realized that although in our small group, all the stories started with a big problem, other stories needed only a small adjustment for the outcome to be successful. Absolutely! Those who love to problem-solve are drawn to situations that need a lot of work to make a powerful change.
However, there are some situations that to our naked eye seemed to be easy to fix, but deep inside they require a thoughtful problem-solving process for change to happen. That’s when all of these common factors, especially building relationships with others, we identified come into place. Real success is impossible without building great relationships or being an active participant in the learning community.
What I like about this protocol is how the conversation focused on the positive. Most of the times when getting bogged down with the negative things that happen at school on a daily basis, we forget to celebrate our small successes. Let’s start the new school year celebrating our success stories to feel empowered to bring positive change to our instructional practice.