The title of the series literally meant to get Smart, Maxwell Smart, the secret agent. However, today we have to make sure we get smart about the way kids learn in this age of Common Core! However, teaching and school leadership are lonely jobs. You're locked in a classroom all day with kids. No phone. No bathroom. No access to the outside world. Principals are lonely, too, often not having anyone on site to share their woes with.
So in a job filled with people who are usually people people, in surroundings that are sort of lonely, it's important to get smart...together! Here are a few tips on how to do just that!
You can do the same thing if you're a principal. Get in the car and go down the street to another school. Walk around together and pop the same kinds of questions. "I notice this _____. How does it work?" "How do you handle _____?" Have conversations with teachers and students together. Take your reflections back with you and think about how they fit the world in your school. And as always, invite your friend back. And snacks don't hurt, either! :)
You can study student data and look for trends in your class. Form some hypothetical small groups for your instruction and imagine those lessons together. Go back and try them (don't forget this part!) and come back with your reflections on how it went. Use this information to continue to grow your knowledge on the topic.
You can also create a practitioner's study group. This means that you and a colleague or two or six try out a kind of writing together, experimenting with different strategies that you can modify to meet the needs of the grade level you teach. You can do the same thing with reading by starting your own book club, and trying on different strategies, like pairs of shoes. Modify the strategies to suit your class. Come back with reflections next time based on the work you did in your class. Don't forget to apply this in real life. Otherwise, you'll never get there!
Principals can do the same thing using materials that fit their work! This can be books, walk-through sheets, or any other stuff that fits your work. Don't forget to apply it to your life at school!
It doesn't have to be a board, though. You can have a room in your school that serves as a community share spot where people can post things, borrow books, or meet to talk shop.
You can have a newsletter that you start up with everyone adding their "column" each time. If someone knows children's books very well, they can add a monthly recommended read aloud. If someone is good at conferring, ask for an easy-to-read tip on conferring. If someone loves poetry, ask them to share one poem each time with one idea on how to use it.
And let's remember blogging. If I can do it, anyone can. No further statements on that one! Except this...try to do a better job than I have (hint, hint...) at getting folks to post responses. It's the best way to share and grow ideas in community without face time.