A Leader’s Expedition

By Amber Walters, IPLI Mentor, Avon Intermediate School West

As you begin your 2023-2024 Expedition, your journey, through the best school year yet, what are you most looking forward to with your staff? With your students? for yourself as a leader? What are you most challenged by and how are you working to climb that mountain and to lead your team?

As a leader, we are challenged to ensure we are growing what works every day. We are always focused on continuous improvement in our students, in our staff and in ourselves. But how? How do we achieve this day in and day out? As leaders I challenge each of you to focus your 2023-2024 Expedition on growing what works through commitment, communication, collaboration, coordination & capacity building.

Commitment: Think about a carabiner and how they link people together when climbing mountains. We are linked together, working towards a common goal with our staff, our students, our school communities. We are holding our teams accountable, using data to guide our decisions, and we are committed to rolling up our sleeves and doing the work. This is Collective Ownership. Together we are owning our data, owning our goals and all together committed towards one common goal. Higher student achievement.

Communication: Thinking, processing, & communicating is essential before reacting in order to move all
stakeholders through our expedition. Our school families must be honest and transparent with one another each step of the way as we travel our expedition together. Each member must provide clear and consistent messages to one another. Together we will solve problems by learning along the way and in turn we will model and communicate this new learning with our students. We will work through conflict peacefully in order to move in tandem so that no one is lost or left behind. Communication is a key to our success as a team, as a greater school family.

Collaboration: When tied to someone, you can’t just jump. Your actions impact others that are tied to you. We are working together with our stakeholder groups in our buildings and communities to overcome obstacles throughout our expedition this year. It is important to seek input and to provide space for stakeholder feedback. We are all on the same team, climbing the same mountain- together. To achieve victory, higher student achievement, we must collaborate; we must work together towards a common goal. We must keep students as our central focus.

Coordination: We are working in sync as collaborative teams, just as one must move in rhythm as they climb or rappel down a mountain. We are coordinating resources to protect what is working and ensure we are yielding positive student outcomes. In order to do this, it is necessary to collect and analyze student data regularly so that our expedition stays on the right track and isn’t taken off course. Our teams must work in coordination to allow the data to drive and protect what is positively impacting student learning.

Capacity Building: Together, it is critical that we as leaders ensure we stay focused on doing more of what
already works and are avoiding tiny losses
. We need to keep our teams focused on learning from past work and measure backward. Imagine the growth we will see if each of us focuses on growing 1% better each day. What power this can have if each member of our team focuses on these small wins. Think about the huge impact the sum of those small wins could have on our overall achievement. The capacity building of each individual member of our school team is critical to see the gains needed for our whole school. Individually we can do so little, but together we can have such a great impact.

Your 2023-2024 Expedition with your school family is off to a great start. Use your carabiner to keep connected, link together with your staff and make connections. Communicate with one another, grow in your team’s Collaboration, work in Coordination, build upon your Capacity, and Commit to your focus of growing better each day. Most important of all, CELEBRATE. Celebrate your staff, celebrate your students and CELEBRATE YOU! YOU deserve to be celebrated. YOU are doing amazing work each day for your staff, for students and so many others. YOU are making a difference. YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS!