Lately I have been really into podcasts of all different genres ranging from true crime, to politics, to leadership. A few weeks ago, I listened to a podcast on The Learning Leader Show entitled "How to Build a Dream Team" which featured Shane Snow, the author of Dream Teams.
I was drawn to this episode because at the time, I was in the middle of training to begin a new job with a team of 18 other people. My county hired 19 Digital Learning Coordinators to serve 187 schools, but before we went out to the schools, we had training on district tools and initiatives, work defining our roles, and time to build the capacity of the team.
I'd encourage you to listen to the podcast on your own, but below are some of my reflections, especially as they relate to taking on a new role with a new dream team this year. Consider your own "Dream Team" and how you can support each other this year.
Good leaders can be skeptical and optimistic
I thought this was interesting because these two ideas are often seen as near opposites of each other; however, the podcast suggested that this willingness to believe that the world can be better, but being willing to question, were characteristics of effective leaders. As Digital Learning Coordinators, we will work with approximately 20 schools in an area. We will need to maintain our optimism that we can make a difference, although we may not see our impact everyday. We will also need to ask questions and wonder. Good coaches don't tell teachers what to do, instead they help them figure out for themselves what's next. Use willingness to question to help move your team forward and always consider what could be different.
"Silence is the Enemy of Innovation"
This idea was an interesting one because in our group, we have lots of strong personalities, which can sometimes cause introverts to become active listeners instead of participants in the conversation. Sometimes the loud voices overshadow the powerful ideas of the quiet. In order to move a group forward, leaders should advocate to make sure that all voices are heard. This also requires me to reflect on the idea that my voice could be too loud, causing others to be silent.
"Empathy makes Competition Nontoxic"
In the podcast, they mention how the Wright Brothers used to argue. They said that they would argue their point, take a break for lunch, and then come back and argue the other side. To be on a team, you must be able to consider the other side, having empathy for the other people involved. The way we talk to each other is so important, sometimes just the tone of a statement can change the entire meaning or interpretation of the words that are said. Run strong after what you believe, but be empathetic to others along the way. "Competition breeds excellence" as long as empathy is in tow.
"Two heads are better than one, only if they think differently"
The podcast discussed an idea they called Cognitive Diversity. They stated that if you have a room full of people who all think the same way, the group is only as smart as the smartest person in the room. On the other hand, if people in the group think differently, the group, as a whole, is smarter. Sometimes working with people who think differently than you can be a challenge, but other times, people compliment your weaknesses with their strengths and vice versa. As teams, using our strengths to enhance each other and the group as a whole, helps to build the dream team.
All of these ideas were powerful in different ways. They helped me to reflect on my practice in a group setting and to make sure that in a group, others are listening to the quiet voices that may hold the most power. This goes not only for educators, but also for students. Consider your class as your own "Dream Team". How can you shape that team this year?
Instructional specialist/coach, Google Certified Trainer, Level 1 and 2 Google Certified educator, Ed Tech Team Teacher Leader Certified, growing and learning