Episode 016 Transcript

Leading in Sync with Jill Harrison Berg (10/25/18)

JONATHAN SUPOVITZ: This is Jonathan Supovitz of the University of Pennsylvania. If you want to hear about where the rubber of leadership meets the road of instructional improvement, then listen to this fabulous Point of Learning podcast with Jill Harrison Berg and host Peter Horn.

PETER HORN [voiceover]: On today’s show, Jill Harrison Berg, an educator with nearly 30 years of experience.

JILL HARRISON BERG: Just like with our students, we don’t talk about whether they’re smart. We talk about how they're smart. Every student has their strengths. When it comes to the faculty though, for some reason we feel like we have to talk about who’s a good teacher and who’s a bad teacher. Now that’s ridiculous because teaching is so complex. Nobody’s great at every single aspect of it, so why don't we talk differentially about the expertise that each individual has.

[VO]: Jill argues that leadership is influence, and there are all kinds of influence in the workplace—some influence is unintentional, some is informal, some positive, some negative …

JILL: There are all kinds of ways people are influencing the quality of each other’s instruction and the culture that affects our teaching.

[VO]: Fortunately, there’s a book for that, which we’re talking about today!

JILL: How can we help ensure that there are structures and cultures in place that help make sure that all of those influences are more positive, more intentional, and helping to move the school forward?

[VO]: I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Jill Harrison Berg about her new book, Leading in Sync: Teacher Leaders and Principals Working Together for Student Learning. This book, published in August by ASCD, is the richest resource I’ve encountered in the last decade for people in schools who are ready to a.) build the trust necessary for real collaboration, and b.) marshal the vast resources latent in every faculty for the best possible learning outcomes for kids. This episode will be of special interest to educators now working in schools (as well as anyone interested in how schools really improve), but as I’ve re-listened to Jill’s comments over the past two weeks, I’m convinced it will take little effort in translation for anyone who works on a team, or in a business, a law firm, or a  lab—you name it!—to come to prize the pearls she presents for consideration. Jill knows what she’s talking about. Her interest in teacher leadership grows out of her own experience as a classroom teacher in public, independent, and faith-based schools, in the U.S. and Brazil. The practices that she advocates are informed by a wide range of experience as well as extensive research into what works, and rigorous thinking about why. Jill was one of the first teachers in MA to earn National Board Certification, in 1998. While she was at the Cambridgeport School, then a new public school in Cambridge that Jill helped to build grade by grade, her principal, Lynn Stuart, an advocate for affirming teaching as a profession, encouraged Jill to pursue NB certification at a time when there were only four other Board-Certified teachers in the State of Massachusetts. Beyond the immense amount of work involved in the Board Certification process, Jill recalls that this exposure to professional standards began to transform her thinking.

JILL: This whole notion that there were professional, national professional teaching standards, or that I was a member of a profession with a shared knowledge base, that there were certain key areas of knowledge and skill that I as an English teacher should know and be able to do kind of rocked my world. I was like, “Wow! You know, I’m working really hard for my students. I want to know if the effort that I’m putting in, the time that I’m putting in is the best it could possibly be. Do I know what I should know for my students?” And so that was a really transformative experience and I want to say not only for my professional practices—there were certain things that I tweaked and improved in the process—but really for my identity as a teacher. I was no longer this individual in my classroom doing these things. I was a member of a profession, and an accomplished one, according to the National Board. I found that really exciting, really empowering. And I wanted to learn more about teaching as a profession.

[VO]: After she won a James Bryant Conant Fellowship to pursue a doctorate in teaching and learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Jill began to think more critically about ways that schools and districts utilize the talents and skills of their professionals—and the ways they often miss out on remarkable potential …

JILL: After I finished my coursework, I thought, well, I would like to go back and teach in Cambridge part time to keep my foot in the classroom. I really loved working with early adolescent students and teaching English and wanted to teach part time while I continued my doctoral studies, but a new superintendent had come in and the new superintendent said, “Well, you know, you need to either come back full time or quit,” and I kind of was just super curious about that decision because they had invested so much money in me. Not only the grant that Cambridge Public Schools had been given, to the dollar amount of my tuition, they paid me half my salary for several years. They also paid me a lot of money to support other candidates to pursue National Certification and now they were asking me—

PETER: Sorry. That fellowship team from the district?

JILL: No, the Conant fellowship comes from Harvard, but it only is awarded to a Cambridge Public School teacher or several—actually, I think four—

PETER: So they could have invested in somebody else …

JILL: Well this is my point! When I think about an organizational investment, if I’m the superintendent of Cambridge and Harvard says to me, “You can have four teachers come study here,” I'm thinking, “Literacy’s a priority. Adolescent literacy is a priority. Let’s have four teachers go become expert at adolescent literacy and come back to the district and help us move the needle on our biggest, most prickly priorities!” In this case, they told me I could come back and teach full time, which was out of the question because I would never have written a dissertation—that wouldn’t have been possible—or quit. And so I thought, “Well, aren’t you interested in knowing what I’ve been studying for the past several years at your expense?” Never once did anyone ask me, “What kind of classes have you been taking? What are you learning?”

PETER: I know the drill. I know the drill.  

JILL: I just thought, “Wow! If I started to add up the dollar amount that had been invested in me …” And don't say this to slight Cambridge, because I have come to learn that this is true generally. In general, school and district leaders do not know what special areas of expertise their teachers have that could be useful throughout the organization. This whole relationship between individuals’ knowledge and institutional knowledge has just been a source of fascination for me since I had this realization as I was reflecting on how Cambridge viewed or didn’t view their investment in me as an accomplished teacher and as a teacher leader, and one with a doctorate degree in teaching and learning and key areas of expertise that were directly related to what the district actually needed.

[VO]: These two areas, then, teacher quality—specifically, the quality of teachers empowered to regard themselves as, and to continue to develop as members of a profession with an important, shared knowledge base—and teacher leadership, that is, the potential influence that teaching professionals can exert for the benefit of every learner in the school—have been the focus of Jill’s research, writing, and consulting work for the past two decades. I asked whether she observed a tension between the individual teacher’s sense of autonomy, or freedom to make independent choices about teaching and learning, and a shared professional knowledge base that informs common ideas about sound practices.

JILL: Autonomy is important not only for teacher satisfaction—because we’re passionate about the act of teaching and we want to be able to tap into the different corners of our repertoires to solve the puzzles in front of us. So there’s that piece for the teacher, but at the end of the day, we’re not there for our own enjoyment. We’re there for student learning! The fact is that I feel like I’m spending a lot of time with my student who’s a seventh grader, but you know, they’re going to be going through K to 12, so I need to make sure that I’m leading in sync with all the other teachers who’ve had exposure to that student. It’s not really fair to that student for me to completely go off-road and not at least be attentive to what other learning experiences that student might have had. This is what characterizes a profession is that we’re not independent entrepreneurs. We’re members of a profession, and there is a knowledge base and some larger consideration of what’s best for kids. So we want to sort of stay within the bounds of that. And when we do move beyond the bounds of that because we feel like it’s better for kids, then let’s do that together and grow the knowledge base. I recognize that it would be limiting if we all felt like we always needed to make decisions within the current parameters the way they are now. But as we press on those parameters, as we try to go beyond what’s currently known, let’s create systems that allow us to continue communicating, trusting each other in those small experiments, and circling back to see: How am I advancing not just my own self and my own practice, but the whole community or knowledge base, the whole profession?

[VO]: How to establish systems for communicating and how to build the trust that undergirds professional communication are major topics in Jill’s just-published volume on teacher leadership, called Leading in Sync. (You may have noticed her weave that title into her response moment ago!) The subtitle is Teacher Leaders and Principals Working Together for Student Learning, which we’ll begin to explore in just a minute.

[11:16]

PETER: As you know, Jill, Point of Learning is a show about what and how and why we learn, which includes honoring the vocation of teaching. I like to begin interviews by asking guests about a teacher who had a strong influence on you—

JILL: Okay …

PETER: —positive or negative.

JILL: Yeah. So sadly, I’m sitting here because I’m thinking initially of negative experiences. I don’t want to start there. I can think of a positive one! I would say that Mrs. Eisner, who was my 10th-grade chemistry teacher, was a positive influence on me because she took us seriously, you know, she treated us like scientists. She didn't play! She got right to the heart of the work and she just—I felt taken seriously by her. I would say that there may have been other teachers who did that generally, but as one of the very few Black students in a White public school in New Jersey where I grew up, I think that I did not always consistently experience that, except for Mrs. Eisner.

PETER: Here’s the thing. You know, it seemed that a negative influence came to you first. I’m interested, because we know how this turned out! You weren’t turned off to education. You became a teacher yourself, and you work very hard for teachers and kids right now. Sometimes [negatives] are motivating experiences, or recollections that influence us to say, “I don’t want kids to have this experience.” Is there one that you’d be willing to share?

JILL: Well, I certainly had a number of experiences I wouldn’t want kids to have. Teachers who, you know, didn’t take the work seriously, or made fun of kids or whatever. When I think of a negative experience, I had a high school physics teacher who really didn’t like me in particular. I learned two things from him: one is that I would complain that we never did anything in class—to him! I was a little bit of a sassy, bold person, and I was a senior, so I felt like I could just do that. And I would say, “Well, when are we going to learn something?” And he would say, “Fine! Study chapters 3, 4, and 5. There will be a test tomorrow.” And the other kids—

PETER: Was that for everybody?

JILL: Yep. That was for everybody. And he did that to make the class mad at me. But he didn’t know that because we were all the same, you know, two dozen kids—or less, I don't know, 16 kids—in all honors classes, we were all close friends and they also were bored, and they also kind of had my back. So they didn’t get mad at me, and we formed study groups and we would do fine. We’d ace the test, because he was just going to be pulling questions out of the back of the book and we knew that anyway, so it was easy to just fake our way through that. I learned a lot about about independent study and forming study groups and teaching myself that year because he really wasn’t going to teach anything. Like literally we did nothing in the classes. But the other thing that he said to me when I got into Harvard—I decided to go to Harvard as an undergraduate at the end of my senior year—and he explained to me that I only got into Harvard because I was Black. And so he felt like that was something important for me to know. And I felt that— Affirmative action was definitely in its heyday at that time. It was 1986 that I graduated high school. And so there was certainly a lot of talk about it, but not as many critical essays being written about the impact of it on African Americans, or “minorities,” as we were called at the time in general. And I felt like that really drove me to prove that I was excellent, and that I earned a place at Harvard. I’ve always held myself to a high standard, I think, because my parents and my grandparents have always done so. We’ve always valued education as a family. But, you know, here I am. I’m over 50 years old and I'm remembering something that—a comment that he may not even remember he made so many years ago. But I’m still remembering it.

[16:06]

PETER: Well speaking of your excellence, I have had the privilege of collaborating with you on a research project scanning teacher leadership programs throughout the United States for the past year, which means I’ve gotten quite familiar with your remarkable mind, and the wealth of experience and lenses you have for looking at the complex ecosystems known as schools. I was prepared for your new book, Leading in Sync, to be very good. I was not prepared for it to be hands down the most useful resource for keeping schools’ focus on student learning that I have encountered in the past 10 years or more. As I confessed to you recently, I don’t enjoy reading many of the education books I’m asked to take a look at. They’re usually too prescriptive or short-sighted, loaded with too many assumptions about how every school must be functioning. Your book provides dozens of smart, well-designed, practical tools, exercises, and suggestions for how teacher leaders and principals can think and work together for student learning by clarifying what it is they actually want and establishing sensible approaches for getting there. As a scholar, you provide ample cutting-edge research literature to support your claims about what tends to work and what doesn’t, but your deep experience working in many kinds of schools informs a style of writing that is also accessible. We’ll crack the cover in just a minute, but I want to start by interrogating the premise of “teacher leadership.” I have a friend who is a children’s advocate who has visited hundreds of schools over the years. He wrote me recently, saying, “I’ve never wholly bought into this ‘teacher leader’ business. Most good first-grade teachers that I know just want to be good teachers! They see the ‘leader’ teachers as an import from the corporate arena.” He adds, “I tend to agree.” What do you say to that?

[18:14]

To that I say that “teacher leadership” means many different things to many different people, right? Everyone’s got a different movie playing in their head about what’s teacher leadership. Some people are thinking of, you know, the one teacher in a school who gets some kind of special privileges and maybe a stipend that seems inaccessible to others, and others are just thinking about the go-to person that, you know, you can knock on their door when you have a problem after school and talk through a student learning challenge. So there’s a really great range of ways people think about teacher leadership. There are many ways in which teachers influence the quality of each other’s instruction—of instruction beyond their own classroom. And I’m calling all of those leadership even when the ways in which teachers influence the quality of instruction beyond their own classrooms is unintentional, is informal and is positive, or negative. The example I like to give often is: everyone has been in that staff meeting where somebody, the principal maybe, introduces a new initiative and one person crosses their arms and rolls their eyes and has just influenced what everybody in the room is going to be feeling about this new initiative as it rolls out. Now that person may not realize their own body language. They don't realize that they’ve done that and that they’ve had such a powerful influence—

PETER: That guy does though. The guy with the eye rolls and crossed arms? He knows.

JILL: Sometimes the principal takes that personally because they assume that’s true! But when we zoom out and we think, “Oh, wow, there are all kinds of ways people are influencing the quality of instruction and the culture that affects our teaching!” And then we can start to think strategically about how can we help ensure that there are structures and cultures in place that help to make sure that all of those influences are more positive, more intentional, and helping to move the school forward. So when I think about teacher leadership, I’m thinking about all of that. I’m thinking about all of the informal [and formal] ways … In my work, I like to work both with teacher leaders and with principals and other school leaders, and the reason is because teacher leaders have a certain set of knowledge and skills that can help them to be more effective in these ways, in formal ways such as building their skills for being an effective facilitator, or for having a difficult conversation or for helping a group to look together at data. Those would be some formal ways. But when I work with the principal, I’m also able to help the principal to think about the cultural conditions. So, principals will often designate, you know, especially in the last decade, we’ve seen a lot of schools recognize “Oh, teachers are working in their own silos. We need to have common planning time. We need to realign the schedule so that teachers have time to interact with one another.” Well, if you haven’t actually created the right conditions, they’re not going to be having the right conversations during that time. You’ve created the structure but not the culture for the conversations that need to happen. So I talk with principals about: What are some of the pieces that you can put into motion that can help ensure that when teachers have the time and the structures for the conversations that they’re actually having the right conversations? So these are some of the tools in the book, but they are also key to my conception of teacher leadership being both very formal as well as very informal, and all of that. From that perspective, of course, everyone is a teacher leader. From that perspective, everyone has the potential to be a positive influence on the quality of each of each other’s instruction.

PETER: So it’s not just people who might have that particular formal role designation.

JILL: Absolutely not.

PETER: So even for newer teachers coming in who may not see themselves as having something to offer …

JILL: Absolutely, and I think that’s a key role that a principal has, is helping every educator— every human—to see that everyone has something to offer. I like to give the example: my husband worked with a student teacher who asked a lot of questions and I’d say, “Well, give me some examples of the kinds of questions that this student teacher asks.” And he said, “Well, he asked me, ‘Well, why is everything where it is?’”

PETER: It’s a second-grade class?

JILL: Yes. Yeah. My husband teaches the second grade. He’s a National Board-Certified teacher. He’s been teaching for 25 years. He’s a veteran educator, is a mentor for dozens of teachers in the district throughout his career. And here’s the student teacher asking him, “Well, why is everything where it is?” So he sat down and they went through everything and as they went through he said, “Well you know, the bookshelf is here because there used to be a chalkboard, but actually now they put up smart board and so we could move that around, and you know, then then this came in and that came in and as they went through the different parts of the room, they ended up really thinking critically about the impact on student learning of the entire learning environment—of each element of the learning environment—and improved the classroom! Now I would argue that that student teacher was a powerful teacher leader simply because of the naive questions that he asked, which challenged my husband to be thinking about the impact on student learning of each instructional choice he had in his classroom. I also like to give just the example of novice teachers coming into a school. Oftentimes they’re from the community, like they’re the ones who know the community better than anyone else or they have really high level—

PETER: Or the community as it is today—

JILL: Exactly, exactly! Or they have really high-level technology skills that can take parent communication and community engagement to new places or even in interschool communication among the faculty. We need to be thinking, as we think about teachers— Just like with our students, we don't talk about whether they’re smart, we talk about how they’re smart. Every student has their strengths. When it comes to the faculty though, for some reason we feel like we have to talk about who’s a good teacher and who’s a bad teacher. Now that’s ridiculous, because teaching is so complex. Nobody’s great at every single aspect of it. So why don’t we talk differentially about the expertise that each individual has?

PETER: One of the first places in your book where I said, “Wow!” I just stopped and looked at it was, I think it was page nine—

ROBYN LEE HORN [voiceover]: “Page 9. Figure 1.1.”

PETER: —where you’ve got this list of competencies, you know, things that the high school, the people in high school are expected to be able to be good at—

ROBYN [voiceover]: “range of teaching knowledge and skills required within a typical high school”

PETER: —and it’s hundreds of things!

ROBYN [voiceover]: “Understanding early adolescence; understanding young adults; understanding human development; understanding individual students; understanding special student subgroup populations in the school; gaining insights about students through partnerships with families; applying knowledge of students to build positive relationships; recognizing and …”

PETER: Just a daunting kind of challenge. And you know, when you look at that list, just on one page, you recognize nobody possibly could do all of this! I mean just in terms of the competencies that have nothing to do with subject area, right? Just this aspect of development or that—and so why not familiarize yourself with who’s good at what and what are our priorities to get better at your knowledge and pedagogy?

ROBYN [voiceover]: “… establishing instructional goals; selecting appropriate materials and resources; partnering with colleagues, families and the community as resources; designing and implementing instructional strategies; engaging students in reading and viewing a wide range of texts; providing instruction and processes; skills and knowledge related to writing; equipping students to become effective communicators; developing students’ appreciation for and the capacity to use language; developing students’ abilities to think mathematically …”

JILL: This notion that every single person within a school can’t be expert at every single area of teaching is—many people find that freeing when they start to think about the idea that among us, we could have expertise in all those areas, but no individual could. But it requires that you have structures in place that allow people to exchange that, right? Because each individual student—and here comes to the equity tie, right?—each individual student’s learning experience shouldn’t be at the mercy of what the one teacher who they’ve been assigned to knows.

PETER: So the “in sync” part is recognizing that if everybody’s got these little pieces, or big pieces, that they can contribute, make sure that, given that we’re all in this same boat, that we’re pulling in the same direction at the same time. We have to be synchronized. That’s that part.

JILL: Absolutely. And we can’t know who’s good at what until we develop our relationships, as I said, because there is a side to some people where they kind of tend to keep their strengths to their chest. They don't want to be volunteered or “voluntold” for anything. So there’s some culture work and some trust building that has to happen before people will be able to be honest about the things that they’re good at. Another piece of course, is that people don't often know what their own strengths are.

PETER: I asked about how we could come to learn about each other’s strengths.

JILL: It might have to do with peer observation and people co-teaching in various contexts that might also have to do even with just a common planning time meeting where we’re all bringing student work, so we’re seeing the kind of work that each other is doing, the kind of tasks that we're creating for our students. So that’s a window in. Oftentimes it starts there, right, with seeing artifacts of one’s teaching. And then as the trust builds, it can move toward actually seeing one another, which of course increasingly we’re doing by video. I think that one of the barriers in the past to seeing entirely each other’s classrooms was actually where you get the release time, right? Everyone’s busy teaching, so they can’t go see each other. But now with video, everyone’s got a video camera in their pocket. So setting that up and sharing that is another important way of learning about each other’s strengths.

PETER: But again, first the foundation of trust must be established. I love the way Jill put this. So here it is again:

JILL: As the trust builds, it can move toward actually seeing one another.

[29:57]

PETER: What advice would you have for somebody—now, obviously anybody working on a school leadership team, any administrator, anybody who sees herself or himself as a lead teacher already or some kind of teacher leader, obviously this book is for them. But what about if I pick up this book and I’m working at a school and maybe I pick it up out of frustration, because I believe my school could be lots better? I believe that I have a bit of extra energy and time, in addition to everything else I've got going on in my classroom and the rest of my life, to devote to this, but I don’t have a formal position of leadership as I see it. What could I do to start if I don’t feel like I have a network of support, a team structure or something. How can I begin?

JILL: Well, as we said, you know, leadership is influence and there are lots of ways people can be influencing one another, and that influence usually comes from a place of expertise. So I think that just recognizing—as an individual going around and recognizing people for the expertise that they have, by tapping into them as experts in those areas, would be an important way to start. Helping people to recognize in themselves the expertise that they have empowers them to want to be a greater influence on others in those areas. So I think that some people think, “Oh, I want to be a teacher leader! I want everyone to know I have this expertise!” and I’m thinking the opposite way around. If you want to be a teacher leader, look to others and encourage them. Ask them to be an influence on you from the perspective of their expertise. Because then you will be exponentially expanding the number of people who have this perspective and changing the culture in a way that then facilitates and supports people to feel as though, “Yeah, expertise is something that we all have in different areas and it’s something that we can feel safe sharing, and helping.” You know, sort of creating that collective response, a sense of responsibility for the students that we share in our school. Once you know who’s good at what, you can be thinking more strategically about your teams. Say you’re going to be forming an ELL [English Language Learners] data team. You can use this and decide, “Well, do I have someone there who knows data and how to analyze it and create data displays and communicate with data? Do I have someone on the team who can help facilitate our challenging conversations? Do I have someone there who understands English language development?” And so you can make sure you have the right combination of expertise on each team.

[32:54]

PETER: You mentioned data, the idea of which often makes people nervous. “Data-driven instruction” is a buzzword, in public schools at least. But many schools, districts and states have a pretty narrow conception of what counts as useful data, or they collect lots of it but either don’t know what to do with it, or use it in ways that reduce the vision of teaching and learning to better scores on standardized tests. What are some of the ways you advocate for considering collecting and using data?

JILL: Well, first of all, let’s say that the things that are most important about education are largely not measurable. So there’s just like number one: recognizing that. And when we’re using numbers— I like to think about data as more than just numbers for that reason, but when we are using numbers, we need to use them cautiously. My interest in evidence of student learning goes back to my Cambridgeport School days. I mentioned that earlier, as we were developing this K-8 school and thinking about, “Oh, what do we think represents a well-educated seventh grader or eighth grader, and what would we like every graduate of the Cambridgeport School to know and be able to do?” We created a system for graduating students by portfolio. Students had to stand up and spend an hour presenting projects that they’d spent the year creating and prove they’re ready to graduate in front of not only their parents, but some community members, some current and former teachers and another student or two. So to me, when I think about authentic assessments and monitoring and data, that is where my heart lies with that work. On the other hand, I have been in education long enough—like over 25 years—that I have seen that before we had education reform, before we had so many numbers that we were using to rank schools, there were some schools that were just unacceptable places for any student to have to spend time. And I recognize that the push for data and No Child Left Behind has put those schools on our radar and helped us to recognize that there are unacceptably low levels where intervention is necessary. I worked with some schools in the early 2000s, that were all complaining about data and complaining about the numbers like, “We don't believe what those numbers mean!” And I said, “Well, let’s just look inside some of the kinds of questions that most kids are getting wrong.” And at the seventh-grade level, one of the questions most kids got wrong in this middle school was “7 x 8 = _____.” And I said, “Data or no data— You don’t believe in the test. Okay. But what do you think about the fact that most seventh graders in our school could not answer this question?” And it helped them to recognize that, you know, there’s the politics around the tests and then there’s also thinking authentically about like, “Is there some kind of floor?”

[36:32]

PETER: We have talked about a number of my favorite aspects of the book. Is there anything else that you feel it’s important to highlight?

JILL: One of the editorial challenges we had with this book is the fact that none of this can even begin without trust. And so—

PETER: Which is Chapter 5.

JILL: Which is Chapter 5. It’s toward the end. What’s it doing way over there? I found over my five years of touring around and talking about this in a dozen different states and different kinds of contexts that people, when they want to talk about teacher leadership, when they come to this book or they come to one of my institutes or something to talk about teacher leadership, they don’t want to start by talking about trust because they’re like, well, that's not what this was going to be about. This was about teacher leadership. So we made the editorial choice to put the trust chapter toward the back. But the truth is that one cannot begin any place except with the trust because none of the strategies presented in the earlier chapters can actually get off the ground without some trust.

PETER: It’s the same in the classroom.

JILL: Absolutely.

PETER: When I work with schools who want to talk about how can we get kids to engage in civil discourse strategies, I’m like, “Well, if they think it’s going to be a debate and they’re going to be shown to be wrong and they’re going to lose face and they don’t trust that this is going to be safe, there’s nothing you can do there.” Same with classroom management and so on.

JILL: Absolutely. You know, we know this about our classrooms and our communities of students. It’s also true of our communities of adults. In education, we’ve all settled into certain roles and ways of being that feel safe to us. Why would I change that up with something so amorphous as teacher leadership—something, as we’ve said, nobody has even defined and we all have different definitions of it. Why would I take the risk of changing that up if I don’t have the kind of trust in one another? So that is something super important. How does trust actually develop in a community? What’s the developmental trajectory of building trust? Which is so important for schools where we need to know, well, what can I do differently? It’s not helpful to just say, “Okay, build trust! Everybody trust each other!” It doesn’t work. What are the steps that have to be taken? That’s what this particular chapter offers. So while it is toward the back, I continue to wonder if that was the right choice, because it really is actually the place that work has to begin.

[39:12]

Where the work begins is where we end today’s episode. My great thanks to Jill Harrison Berg for spending time with us. Her game-changing book Leading in Sync is available from the ASCD website, linked on the show page. If you work in a school, you will thank me for insisting you buy it right now! Thanks also to Mark Wright who was delighted to let me use some of his piano music once he learned that Jill is the great-niece of Maceo Pinkard, the first African American music publisher, who also composed “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Dem Dere Eyes,” and dozens of other songs. Shayfer James composed our theme musics. Thanks to Robyn Lee Horn for her voice dramatizing Fig. 1.1, and thanks so much to you for listening, subscribing, and spreading the word about Point of Learning to everyone you know curious about what and how and why we learn.    

 

 

Peter Horn