Tables were turned earlier this week when we introduced members of the A+ Board of Directors to a group brainstorming protocol the Alabama Best Practices Center used at our first series of Key Leaders Network meetings during the past month.
A+ Board members, accustomed to listening to reports and asking strategic questions, found themselves in the collaborative learning mode…and they liked it!
Divided into groups of three or four, our Board identified three “adjectives” to describe A+ Education Partnership and its programs. The adjectives they chose included collaborative, innovative, prospective, aspirational, and knowledgeable. One group opted against using adjectives and instead to listed “characteristics” and included student-centric, high-bar, and education advocates.
Next, they surfaced three of their “proudest prouds” about A+. In addition to being proud of our work generally (ABPC, A+ College Ready, and our policy work), others mentioned staff quality, our results– particularly related to spreading AP and pre-AP – marrying public policy with practice, and our commitment to all public school students.
Shifting to the future, Board members surfaced three challenges that both staff and they as a Board of Directors needed to address. The challenges they identified included sustainability, building recognition for the work, continuing positive relationships with policymakers, funding, generational transitions within our organization, and maintaining success.
And, finally, our Board moved to visioning by identifying aspirations for A+ in the future, listing such “stretch goals” as every child learning at grade level, great teachers in every classroom, program expansion to meet pressing needs , an improved state policy environment, A+ known and supported throughout the state, and… working ourselves out of a job!
Watching the board members work collaboratively—and have fun while they were doing that— reminded me of the power of groups when given a structured task using an effective protocol. (We often hear this from participants in our professional learning networks.) After reporting on their work, several Board members asked for copies of the protocol so they could share with their own staff or colleagues! (If you like, you can download it here and adapt to your needs.)
Musing about this part of the meeting reminded me of the value of joint learning and collaboration. The voices we heard and the advice we received from this fun and consequential protocol will inform our work for years to come. And my guess is that our Board will remember this part of their meeting long after many other details are forgotten.
— Cathy Gassenheimer (@cathygassenheim) September 9, 2019