Monday, 16 May 2016

If You Want To Go Far

"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

                                                  - African proverb


As a reader I am most drawn to beautiful language.  I am captivated by the way in which things are said.  As a writer I strive to share my message in a simple, yet elegant way… and am in awe of writers who actually do so.  This African proverb – sent to me by Michelle Follows, a valued colleague and very reflective professional – uses only sixteen words to say everything that is in my heart and mind about professional learning and leadership. 


As a teacherI go far when I …


• co-construct criteria with my students 
• ensure that I am teaching students and not only curriculum
• involve students in self-assessment
• create opportunities for students to learn from each other
• engage in professional dialogue with my colleagues
• actively participate in my professional learning community in real and honest ways
• collaborate
• create learning destinations with my grade level team
• analyze student samples with colleagues
• make my learning public
• open my classroom to colleagues 
• co-plan lessons and units of study
• co-teach in purposeful and meaningful ways
• view parents as partners


As a leaderI go far when I…


• make my own learning visible
• view myself as both instructional leader and co-learner
• create norms of collaboration 
• co -construct criteria with my adult learners
• participate as a co-learner in professional learning communities with teachers
• model the principles and strategies I wish to see in classrooms in my leadership practice
• support teachers in creating clear learning destinations for students
• share triangulated evidence that I am meetingmy goals
• explicitly revise my professional learning agendas to meet the needs of the audience in front of me
• collaborate and learn with other leaders
• work in classrooms alongside teachers, sometimes taking the lead and other times playing a supporting role
• model planning that begins with a clear learning destination, identifies possible triangulated evidence, and describes quality and proficiency
• celebrate teacher and student successes with descriptive feedback
• create opportunities for teachers to co-teach and observe others teach, with time to debrief and reflect on the learning and next steps


In the service of students… in the service of learning…


”If you want to go far, go together.”






  1. Thanks for sharing the African proverb. It certainly resonates with me as well. As an educator, I sometimes do go far alone when I am passionate about making impact and seeing difference, but the key is to collaborate with others so that there is a great team supporting the cause and fueling the impact.

    1. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say that, like you, I absolutely know of times when an educator goes far on his or her own ... and then a little bit further through collaboration, conversation, feedback...

  2. thank you for framing this in such a powerful way. It reminds me of the importance of aligning our practice and of the power of side by side learning.

    1. Which in turn reminds me of how you and your co-authors wrote about the idea of "going together" and side-by-side learning in your book Residency: Powerful Assessment and Professional Practice.