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Aurora Institute

Dancing Out Front

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Courtney Belolan

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

A lesson in leadership from a dancing guy

I’m in my fourth year in my teacher leader position here at MAMS.  It wasn’t until about a year ago that I had an overwhelming aha! moment about who I was, or wanted to be, as a leader.  My principal showed me the dancing guy leadership video, and all I can say is that it spoke to me.  Since then I have strived to be the kind of leader who dances out front. I picture myself as a suave tap dancer some days, and other days as a lithe ballerina.

Dancing out front means being the vision.  If I’m supposed to be helping colleagues figure out what a learning target is, I need to give them a learning target about targets.  If I want them to start using progress tracking tools, I need to use progress tracking tools when I work with them.  If the English teachers are supposed to be using a workshop model, I need to use a workshop model.

This is fresh on my mind since I am leading several PD sessions this week, one at my school and two at the Maine Association of Middle Level Educators annual conference. I pay attention to how sessions are structured and delivered, sometimes more so than the actual content. Know what I notice?  Even when people were presenting about hybrid learning or competency-based learning, they usually do so in the traditional sit-and-get model! Further, there is rarely any pre-assessment to see what the knowledge and understanding levels of the attendees are!  Ever notice how someone always has a comment to the effect of “This is how the kids feel” at the end of a workshop day?  Yep, exactly, we all know what it feels like.  So let’s put our tap shoes on, leaders, and dance out front.

This week I’ve choreographed some pre-assessment and hybrid-learning for my professional development sessions.  For pre-assessment, I am using ProProfs quiz maker and a Google Docs form.  From there, participants will have different tasks and resources according to where they are in their understanding of my presentation topic.  For my jaunt into hybrid-learning, I have an Xtranormal video I created and blog posts that get at the foundational knowledge in my sessions.  All of my sessions this week are structured in a workshop format, no sit-and-get in my rooms.  I can already hear that beat of dancing feet…

Courtney Belolan works at RSU 2 in Maine where she supports K-12 teachers with performance-based, individualized learning. Courtney works closely with teams and teachers as a coach, and with the school and district leadership teams as an instructional strategist. Courtney has worked as a 6-12 literacy and instructional coach, a middle level ELA teacher, an environmental educator, and a digital literacy coach. Her core beliefs include the idea that the best education is one centered on student passions and rooted in interdisciplinary applications, and that enjoying learning is just as important as the learning itself.