Thanks to Our KLN and PCN Design Dream Teams, Many Hands Made Light Work This Summer

Definition: Even a difficult task becomes easy if enough people help complete it.

Origin: This English proverb dates all the way back to the 1300s. It initially appeared in a story called Sir Bevis of Hampton and has been included in many collections of proverbs from that point onwards.

People often use this idiom to stress the importance of teamwork and cooperation, especially in the face of a daunting task. (Source)

The last few words in this introductory quote – ‘in the face of a daunting task’ – really resonate with me these days.

It is amazing to look back to early March and think about how all of us did our work just a few short (OK, not so short) months ago. We got “in the room where it happened” and we hammered out the details of the plan, and we put it into action. “Zoom” was just one of our speeds.

Which reminds me: for our new ways of working, I have two phrases that I probably need to copyright if someone hasn’t already:

  • The Zoom Where It Happens (with apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda), and
  • The Knowledge is in the Zoom (with apologies to Cathy and Jackie).

I’ve already heard people using these phrases, but I’m pretty sure that I came up with them first, so I’m calling dibs!

Both of these ideas relate to our two design teams who worked over the summer to outline the learning for our Key Leaders Networks and Powerful Conversations Networks in the coming year. Our teams really were amazing, and the content and designs they produced over the two three-day virtual institutes exceeded our expectations for what could be accomplished when working remotely.

Our design team members

We are so thankful for these team members below who gave of their time freely over the summer to help us ensure that we are designing learning that best meets the needs of our partners.

One of our main goals for the institutes was to really explore the extent to which we could build a truly safe and collaborative community in a virtual setting. As a result of Jackie Walsh’s design and our team members’ energy and excitement around the work, we felt in the end that we came as close as possible to what would have been created in a face-to-face design team retreat.

We probably would have had a little more fun at Cathy Gassenheimer’s lakehouse and enjoyed the fellowship of food and casual conversation, but I’m not sure that the work and the support could have been any better. We are so grateful to our teams.

Here are some things we learned and created

► We all learned new aspects of Zoom, Google Docs, and other Chrome extensions and apps to aid our collaboration and learning design. We explored the context of our grounding texts for this year, using tools such as Mentimeter, Kahoot, video curation and creation, synectics, protocols, open networking rooms, Pear Deck, and others.

► What we have created is an outline for learning that is both exciting and engaging. It feels very different from any online learning opportunity that I have experienced in the past. Each “Meeting” will have a flipped asynchronous section; a live and recorded synchronous Zoom session with networking, team planning, and breakout room collaboration; and a follow-up asynchronous session to solidify the learning and foster team planning and action.

► We will also model successful practices in remote learning. We’ve been reading a lot about that and have tapped experts like Paul Teske and Sarah Brown Wessling, among others, to help us.

We are very excited about the design and look forward to learning from our partners. We want to continue to fine-tune what we’ve designed as you join us in this experience, planning “just-in-time” learning that participants and teams can use back in their schools and districts.

We promise a rich year of professional learning

We understand it’s challenging to take on additional learning when things are so chaotic. We also feel that this is a crucial time to be networking and learning from each other. We hope you will join us in our 2020-2021 KLN and PCN networks. Together, we can do our very best to make it a great year for our students, staff and communities.

Previous blogs about our “grounding texts” are linked with their covers below. The registration link is also displayed here and included in Cathy’s blog sharing more details about our network plans.

We look forward to sharing the network learning designs crafted by your colleagues and our friends, and we thank them immensely for their hands in the hard work of helping us create an excellent learning experience we can all look forward to.

We hope that you have a wonderful and safe start to the new school year, and we hope to see you in the networks. And, remember, when you feel stressed, rely on all your networks – knowing that many hands make light work!

Dr. Stoney M. Beavers is Assistant Director of  the Alabama Best Practices Center.

The PCN Focus

Essential Question for PCN: How do we build an authentic, collaborative professional learning community in a virtual environment?

Blog Link


The KLN Focus

Essential Question for KLN: How can we create coherence during a time of unpredictability and constant disruption?

Blog Link


Register for PCN and KLN Here

— See more details about cost and logistics at the end of Cathy’s post