One of my favorite things about learning is the serendipity of it all.    We know we need to learn something or grow in some way, and voila, as we are out in the world, and read blogs, and read books, we stumble over these things serendipitously.

That’s one of the things I love about bookstores and libraries as well–wandering to a shelf that seems pertinent and finding all sorts of connections there.

This morning my serendipitous find was this incredible post by Jan Smith, about the interconnectedness of our organizations, and the work of Margaret Wheatley on how change happens through an interconnected network, and not so much through hierarchical organizations.

Wheatley’s book has been sitting on my bookshelf for several years, unread, coincidentally, so now I will add it to my “real” reading list.

Smith quotes Elizabeth Donohoe Steinberger, writing in School Administrator, ironically from an article that is 13 years old!

“…I see the need to create organizations where people can bring their whole selves. Unless we create organizations where all of us feel we can contribute in multiple and unexpected ways, the organization cannot survive into the future. There is no way to be adaptive and resilient without having everyone engaged in the work.”

In this even faster-paced, web 2.0 environment, the idea that we all need to feel free to contribute, organize and create in order to be resilient and move the organization forward is important.  What role does leadership play in this?

Wheatley, it appears, would suggest that the leadership of all of us is important, something I alluded to in a recent post.

So rather than think of this theoretically, how can we take steps to be leaders on our own campuses, whether we are individual classroom teachers, librarians, tech coordinators?  What can we do to invite others in?

What obstacles prevent that from happening?  And how can we make this more concrete?

Even if conditions are not ideal where any of us are, how can we step forward and connect in serendipitous ways with others?

4 thoughts on “Serendipity

  1. Carolyn,
    I love your questions:
    “…how can we take steps to be leaders on our own campuses, whether we are individual classroom teachers, librarians, tech coordinators? What can we do to invite others in?
    What obstacles prevent that from happening? And how can we make this more concrete?

    In my district BLC stands for Building Leadership Capacity and that is what you are asking about!
    To answer all of your questions at once, I would suggest that teachers need more collaboration time! We need mentorship, we need shared vision, and we need encouragement… all of which arise out of putting teachers together around a specific action plan.

    As an example, we have technology integration experts in our schools who are better connected digitally to others than they are connected to their teaching partners in their schools. They sit in different rooms all day then the digitally connected expert shares their insights online.

    Espousing the values of a new way of thinking does nothing compared to a shared experience with teachers and students doing new things in new ways.

    Our current leaders need to have time to share their wisdom built into the daily schedules of our schools.

  2. Now this is serendipity! I first subscribed to your blog in May because I love the way you write and your ideas, but for some reason your fabulous posts have not been dropping into my feeder. Probably operator error on my part.
    I have the same questions about leadership and change, and I think Dave’s answer–we need time to collaborate–is a big part of the solution. And I think it will also take a sea change in the way we imagine leadership. The leader as boss paradigm is still pervasive in our culture, even school cultures. And even though the models of distributed leadership and capacity building ideas are not new, they aren’t widely understood in most schools–I hadn’t heard of them until last October.
    Dave’s district is not far from mine (a 2 hour ferry ride and a drive up the Island), and ours is also encouraging leadership by promoting “leading from where you stand” with a year-long series of gatherings.
    Dave’s example of colleagues feeling more connected digitally than personally with those in the same building or district resonates with me, too. I think it’s because there isn’t a good mechanism to find those nearby connections–which seems counter-intuitive. My example is that I would love to find someone in my district who is using Voice Thread. I am sure someone is–but I don’t know how to find them. We don’t have the mechanism to connect. But I have found others using VT by connect with them online.
    By the way, Carlolyn, the quotation in your post and mine is Margaret Wheatley’s, not Elizabeth Donohoe Steinberger who interviewed her. My fault. I edit my post to be more clear. Sorry about that.

  3. Hi Carolyn,
    Good questions. Since blogging in January I am astounded by the acquaintances I have made throughout the world. Every one of the sincere people who have posted seems serendipitous to me. Teachers in New Zealand, Argentina, South Korea, etc.

    For students this experience can also be achieved through the development of teacher moderated blogs which encourage the exchange of ideas on a local and global level.

    I recently blogged about two high school writers who met through an online journal hosting site and their relationship blossomed into a novel purchased by Random House.

  4. I love visiting your blog Carolyn. I always find something that I take away and mull over. I think it’s serendipitous that I’ve found an inspirational teacher-librarian who shares so much of my thinking! Thanks for your insightful posts -I value them greatly.

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