Environmental Scan – Personal Reflection

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					Environmental Scan – Personal Reflection
Martha Lamb


       As I reflect on the completion of this project, the most striking thought that comes to my

mind is the enormity of the task itself. When I began working on the first components of the

project, it was fun to see what I could uncover about the history of the school and community.

I searched the Internet, interviewed present and past employees, visited the public library to

search the vertical files, and took a lot of pride in being thorough. Later, I had a lot of fun

taking photographs of our building and grounds, and I took great pains to make sure that each

photograph was just right so that it would be visually pleasing. I must have spent three weeks

compiling and tweaking this information. What I didn’t realize was that I was spending entirely

too much time on the fine points of the background information when I should have done a

perfunctory survey, recorded my information, and moved on to the more critical parts of the

project: the analysis of data and plan for improvement.

       It was when I got to the “meat” of the project that I first began to really appreciate the

fact that I was working with a partner. By the time I began working on sections 3 and 4, the

“Informed Assessment” and “Action Plan,” I had only about one week left before the project

was due. Fortunately, I had that week off from work for spring break, because without the time

off, I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish. Typically, I prefer to work alone on academic

projects, but having been advised that collaboration was an important skill that we needed to

develop and because I had a partner who was located in the same school as me, I had agreed

to work with Sheila Smith.

       As it turned out, Sheila and I have very complementary skills, and we were able to

capitalize on our talents to put together a well-designed total product. My facility with web-
page authoring is very limited, but Sheila was able to create a format that looks clean and

professional, and she was happy to teach me the technical skills that I was lacking. My

strengths are data analysis and curriculum, so I was able to use my expertise as we devised

an action plan that met the needs we had uncovered in our data collection.

       I probably learned as much about the process of collaborating with others and the

benefits that can be derived from collaboration as I did about anything else with this task. As I

move in my career toward administration, it is going to be critical for me to remember that “two

heads are better than one,” and that effective collaboration utilizes the skills and talents of

each of the individuals in a group. Not only can a better product be created, but the

enthusiasm of participants that comes from ownership in a process cannot be over-valued.

Every day I see very talented administrators who take charge of initiatives, present them to

their teachers, and wonder why the teachers balk. Collaboration and empowerment are key,

and sometimes the most talented individuals have the most difficult time putting that principle

into practice.

       Secondly, this project gave me a format for data collection and analysis that I will be

able to return to when I become an administrator. The use of electronic media is especially

liberating, and the organizational method of setting up files before beginning to collect data is a

particularly helpful strategy.

       Finally, I will try to use my experience in completing this assignment as a metaphor to

remind me that big projects take a lot of time, and that we should not get bogged down in the

early details while neglecting to move on to the more critical and difficult parts of the task. As a

principal, this will be a valuable lesson as I initiate various efforts for school improvement.