Early on in my coaching venture I articulated where I hoped to be most active and with whom. My goal was to work with leaders in education. I suppose I envisioned work with title-holders: principals, chairs, heads, coordinators. In many ways, they remain a primary target group and yet I am noticing a shift in focus.
In the fall I initiated a Roundtable Group for Leaders of Color and I publicized it through a message board of the National Association of Independent Schools website. My vision was to create a safe space for participants to share and exchange ideas at the intersection of identity, leadership and education with colleagues from a variety of schools. Groups were designed to be kept small (2-5) and scheduled to meet online monthly for 90 minutes. Two groups emerged and our conversations thus far have been especially rich, nuanced and edifying. Our topics have included leadership, identity, hiring and being hired, collaboration and competition, and individual school context.
As the meeting convener I create an agenda and offer some reading related to our topic and share these electronically. Here’s what I have learned so far:
- Reflective conversations can be hard to come by for all of us working in schools.
- When educators claim the opportunity to listen and be heard by colleagues who can relate, space is created for further reflection and grounded practice.
- Opportunities specifically for leaders of color to engage with each other in this way appear to be few and far between.
- At the close of our session there is a mutual gratitude for the time and support that we have shared with each other.
Of all of the initiatives I have started this year, developing these groups counts as my proudest. As a concept and practice, the Leaders of Color Roundtable has a future. Each conversation opens the door to much wider dialogues happening in our respective school communities while providing ample room for the individual to explore related terrain.
6 months into this work – the work of groups: of space making, support fostering and community building – this is the work I recognize as genuinely soul-stirring for me. The more I work with and in groups, the more I realize how much self-care benefits from outside support. Going forward I relish the opportunity to engage more fully with groups, with leaders of color, with the gifts of humanity to create bonds which support, uplift and encourage.
*If joining such a group interests you, please contact me via Twitter @edifiedlistener.