For Principals Only Session: Wednesday

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COSEBOC Annual Gathering of Leaders
May 18-21, 2016
Jacob Javits Center, New York, NY

COSEBOC Annual Gathering of Leaders, 2016 - NYC

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
12:30 – 4:30 pm | Pre-Conference Session

The “For Principals Only” session at the annual COSEBOC Gathering is a unique convening of principals from across the country interested in collaborating with other principals dedicated to accelerating progress for their boys of color. This session has contributed to the formation of collegial bonds generated by participants co-constructing solutions to dilemmas of practice that are shared during the session. Much like the proverbial, “it takes a village” concept, strategies and suggestions are shared across geographical regions, types of schools, and the socio-economic spectrum. The common factor is a commitment to the achievement of boys a color and the recognition of the prevailing and often perplexing challenges leaders face in building momentum for change to benefit this population of students. So, imagine a context much like a village where stories are shared, all voices are valued and the wisdom of the elders is sought.

Imagine a village where you are encouraged to find a topic that resonates with you and enter into a conversation, knowing that what you have to give is as appreciated as what you hope to gain.

Imagine a village where the creation of a safe space to “share and compare” leads to a type of dialogue not normally experienced in contexts where boys of color is the topic of discussion.

This is the design of “For Principals Only,” where the only expectation is that the agenda is built on the content of your real life experiences in leadership, and the only outcomes are the ones that a community of colleagues generate collectively and passionately during the session and throughout the remainder of the Gathering in various informal encounters, and beyond! 

An Invitation to Open Space 

What is Open Space Technology?

Open space technology (OST) is designed to deal with real “business” issues, no matter how the nature of the business may be defined.  For OST to work, it must focus on real issues that are of passionate concern to those who will be involved.  It is effective in situations where a diverse group of people must deal with complex issues in innovative and productive ways.  It is particularly powerful when nobody knows the answer, and the ongoing participation of a number of people is required to deal with the questions.  

It does not work—and therefore should never be used—in any situation when the answer is already known, when somebody at a high level thinks he or she already knows the answer, or when somebody thinks s/he must be in control of other people’s learning.   OST works superbly if people are quite willing to admit that they do not know all of the answers, but nevertheless believe that collectively they have a shot at creating viable solutions.

How does OST work?

Open Space runs on two fundamentals, passion and responsibility.  Without passion, nobody is interested.  Without responsibility, nothing will get done.  It is therefore important to declare, right up front, what the focus will be.  Our focus question is: What do you most need to learn so that you can successfully address the academic and social/emotional needs of young men and boys of color?

Our OST session on Wednesday, May 18 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York will provide just what the words imply —time and space for you to meet in whatever configurations seem appropriate in order to generate new knowledge about your practice and our focus question. 

The process of organizing Open Space is quite simple.  The facilitator will begin by asking those who are interested to identify an issue or opportunity related to the focus question, for which they have genuine passion, and for which they will take real responsibility.  As you think about preparing for Open Space, don't just consider good ideas that somebody else might do, or be interested in.  Think of powerful ideas that really grab you.  Proposing an area of discussion, and taking responsibility, does not require that you be an expert or that a formal presentation be given.  Either or both of these may be true.  But it may be equally true that you do not know enough, and that you are simply looking for people with whom you can generate new knowledge.  Taking responsibility means that you designate a space, convene the session, and make sure the session is facilitated.

Hopefully, this is enough of an explanation to help you begin thinking now about our Open Space session on Wednesday, May 18.  There are a few other, simple rules for Open Space that we will post and explain in more detail when we meet.   See you there!