A few weeks ago, twelve Jewish day school leaders from across the country gathered together to listen to a problem that their colleague was having in his school. He spent a few minutes presenting his dilemma about supervising a teacher who was having trouble taking feedback. The room full of his peers spent 45 minutes talking about his dilemma, asking questions, thinking of possible obstacles, and positing solutions. At the end of the dilemma, he apologized to his friends. “I am sorry if this dilemma was so specific to my school and wasn’t useful for you to discuss.” To this, every one of the other leaders chuckled a little and replied, “I have been there too.”
If you are a school leader, reading this might give you a little bit of FOMO (fear of missing out). Perhaps you are wondering if there was another conference that you didn’t know about. Or maybe you want to know why you were not asked to be part of this discussion. After all, it’s likely that you have experienced that same problem too!
This anecdote is a sample of what goes on during the monthly calls that YOU Leaders get to experience during their 9 months in the program.
One of our fundamental beliefs at Prizmah is that leaders do not need to be alone. Sometimes we feel isolated in our communities or in our schools, but the truth is the Jewish day school network is vast and deep. Prizmah aims to connect day school leaders to one another on a variety of different and meaningful levels.
For this leader who shared his dilemma, sharing his story was natural. He has spent the past six months interacting with this small cohort of peers, and they have begun to trust one another. Despite the fact that some of them have met in person only twice, the bond of engaging in deep professional learning together has allowed them to open up to one another in an unparalleled fashion.
As one current participant in YOU Lead stated, “I have gained a strong peer network, mentors and human resources I can get help and support from…I now have resources to learn from, a bigger toolbox, awareness of areas that I am lacking knowledge in, greater knowledge in every area studied.”
When the leader walked into the cohort call he thought he was alone. Admitting to this group of peers that he had a huge problem that no one else faces was hard. When he left the call, he not only had some concrete next steps generated by a group of people he trusts, but he also had the knowledge that these problems are not only his. Twelve other leaders from schools just like his and schools he could not even fathom are going through the exact same struggles that he faces on a daily basis.
This process of self discovery and learning is what it really means to be a leader.