Connect with a Colleague
I like to read. But my eyes are bigger than the opportunities I have to read the books I’ve bought. So the pile gets larger. I try to read through them when I have a moment here, a half- hour there, or the rare quiet afternoon on a weekend. As I look at my pile of books, I see a common theme − leadership.
There are hundreds of books written about leadership. We have all read many of the same books, by the same authors while in graduate school, and new ones come out all the time. Leading for change, leading to motivate others, and leading for the future are just some of these books’ focus areas. Reading these types of books is important for us to keep up with the latest research, build and refine our skills, and understand how others have found success.
Outside of reading, there are other opportunities to further our leadership skills and abilities. For me, there is great value in professional networks. They go by many names, professional learning communities, professional learning networks, learning collaboratives, and a variety of educational associations. These networks meet in person, virtually, or harness the power of social media to build, support, engage, and educate their members.
Over the years, NJASA has built upon the professional network concept and adapted to the needs of education, our districts, and us as chief school administrators. We have expanded Techspo to the point that the conference is the largest edtech conference in the state, and our spring conference provides a series of sessions that address the many things happening in our districts. NJASA has most recently created and held two equity conferences and a two-day women’s leadership conference. These conferences, along with the new superintendent academy, professional development seminars, and professional publications provide robust networking opportunities for our members. And we even have an active Twitter account and app to push information right to our phones.
Moving forward, the NJASA4Equity sub-committees are looking to build out a repository of best practices, ideas, and proven practices that can help each of us as we work toward our vision of equity in our school districts and across the state. All of this work over the last few years is a result of NJASA members coming together, working together, and advancing the efforts of the organization together in a network of professional educators.
The educational needs in our districts, across our state, and throughout the nation are ever- changing. To meet these needs we need to network with other educational professionals. At the same time, we need to build our network by bringing in new members and empowering them to express their ideas, take an active role in our network, and become leaders within our association. This is how positive change happens. All of us benefit from a growing, engaged and diverse network.
Years ago, as a new member of NJASA, I attended some committee meetings and had not yet figured out my place in or the benefits of our network. Then, I received a call asking me to get more involved. That call opened the door to exciting professional opportunities within our NJASA network. It introduced me to leaders from around the state and gave me a chance to learn with them. We all have the potential to be involved, the power to make that call to another chief school administrator or NJASA member, or connect with a colleague to encourage their participation. Our organization is better for all members when we take the chance to expand our network.
Leadership takes many forms. The pile of books waiting for me to read proves this to be true, but why wait to learn something new in a book. The next idea, resource, and professional opportunity is out there among our colleagues. Let’s take the time to connect with each other, reinforce the benefits of our NJASA network and expand it through opportunities to collaborate and grow our network.
Scott R. Rocco, Ed.D.
2019-2020 NJASA President