Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every person. – Pirkei Avot 4:1
Investing in ongoing professional learning and coaching of early childhood educators has multifaceted benefits. At the Efshar Project, formerly known as the Colorado Jewish ECE, we found that not only does investing in collaborative long-term learning of teachers improve the educational experience for children and families, but it also creates a pipeline of future leaders.
Here are three strategies that have been gateways to growing future leaders in our schools:
- Support Collaborative Cohort Learning Opportunities - Many of our assistant director and curriculum coordinator positions have been filled with educators who have received collaborative cohort learning experiences through Efshar. These experiences have taken place at the national, community-wide, and individual school levels. The common denominator has been the spark of inquiry-based learning in a long-term collaborative format combined with coaching. One example has been our Community of Practice (CoP) in which educators build relationships while growing and learning with and from each other.
- Support Opportunities for Shared/Distributed Leadership – Implementing opportunities for teacher leadership can take many forms. One way is to create a peer coaching and mentoring program. Another is using a distributed leadership approach. This is where different staff members are given responsibility to lead in an area that is meaningful to them. To expand your knowledge on this concept, read Rachel Denee’s blog post on distributed leadership.
- Be a Model - As with any form of teaching, modeling is our strongest tool. Be the type of leader you hope people will grow into.
- Provide reading material - Some valuable books that Efshar coaches have unpacked with school leaders are Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead, Elena Aguilar’s Onward: Cultivating Resilience in Educators, and Appreciative Leadership by Diana Whitney. Caron Blanke wrote about an aspect of leadership coaching inspired by these books in the COJECE Blog.
- Collaboration - We also support a collaborative process in our community by creating a Reflective Consultation Group. This is where directors grow their reflective skills to maintain and continually build a positive school culture that keeps people coming back.
Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? He who learns from every person. We might add to this ancient wisdom, “And, she who allows every person to lead.”
The Efshar Project