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Podcast: Collaborative Teams & How We See the World

Professional Growth

On our latest episode of Field Trip, the podcast where we share real stories from the front lines of K-12, we hosted Dr. Ellie Drago-Severson, Program Director, and Professor of Education Leadership and Adult Learning & Leadership at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, and her doctoral student, Christy Joswick-O’Connor, a PhD student in Education Leadership at Teachers College and school administrator in New Jersey.

For over 20 years Ellie has conducted research and worked with school leaders and organizations to support professional and personal growth and learning. Ellie’s book Leading Adult Learning introduces a model of school leadership, called Learning-Oriented Leadership, that uses 4 Pillar Practices to transform schools into places where adults and children can grow. This episode is based on one of the Pillar Practices, teaming. Ellie and Christy expand on this work and discuss collaborative teams: and how they’re often (rightly) held up as an ideal place to work, learn and grow. But the same things that make a collaborative team successful — the fact that we’re all different people, with different strengths, areas for growth and ways of seeing the world — are often the things standing in the way of that success.

They also discuss the challenges of teaming, and more importantly, practical insights as to how teams can apply a developmental approach to move forward with diligence and new understandings.


“We wouldn’t ask a 2-year-old to solve a problem that required abstract thinking, because we know that a 2-year-old cannot do it. Yet, we often ask adults to do things that they are not quite ready to do, because they don’t have the internal cognitive, emotional, interpersonal and intrapersonal capacities yet.”
– Ellie Drago-Severson, Professor of Education Teachers College, Columbia University

“When I learned Learning Oriented Leadership, it allowed me to differentiate, because as a leader, just like we ask our teachers to differentiate for our kids, we have to differentiate for our teachers. I started infusing some of the things that Ellie taught that goes with adult development into everything that I did, and it made such a big difference in terms of feedback, in terms of how meetings were structured, in terms of how collaboration sessions went.”
– Christy Joswick-O’Connor, English and Language Arts Supervisor

For more information about this please see Ellie’s best-selling books Helping Teachers Learn: Principal Leadership for Adult Growth and Development (Corwin, 2004) and Leading Adult Learning: Supporting Adult Development in Our Schools (Corwin/The National Staff Development Council, 2009), as well as Becoming Adult Learners: Principles and Practices for Effective Development (Teachers College Press, 2004) and Helping Educators Grow: Practices and Strategies for Supporting Leadership Development (Harvard Education Press, 2012). She is also a coauthor of Learning for Leadership: Developmental Strategies for Building Capacity in Our Schools (Corwin, 2013), Learning Designs: Reach the Highest Standard of Professional Learning (Corwin, 2015), Tell Me So I Can Hear You: A Developmental Approach to Feedback for Educators (Harvard Education Press, 2016) and Leading Change Together: Developing Educator Capacity Within Schools and Systems (ASCD, 2018).

Please feel free to send inquiries and comments to Dr. Ellie Drago-Severson at

Frontline Education

Frontline Education provides school administration software partnering with over 12,000 K-12 organizations and millions of educators, administrators and support personnel in their efforts to develop the next generation of learners. With more than 15 years of experience serving the front line of education, Frontline Education is dedicated to providing actionable intelligence that enables informed decisions and drives engagement across school systems. Bringing together the best education software solutions into one unified platform, Frontline makes it possible to efficiently and effectively manage the administrative needs of the education community, including their recruiting and hiring, employee absences and attendance, professional growth and special education and interventions programs. Frontline Education corporate headquarters are in Malvern, Pennsylvania, with offices in Andover, Massachusetts, Rockville Centre, New York and Chicago, Illinois.