January 8, 2021


Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and
learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education.


Collaborating and Planning Remotely


3 Big Ideas

      1. Find a Planning Partner.
        Alec Couros, a faculty member at the University of Regina in Canada, posts key points of his course syllabus outline. I have learned a lot from examining his blog and, as a result will be a better university instructor, remote or in-person. Take a close look at The Networked Teacher graphic to the left that I found there. It was first published in Couros’s dissertation under a Canadian Creative Commons License. Where are you stronger and where are your needs? We grow as teachers, parents, and people by talking with and learning form and with others. Our network is our personal growth hormone. We each gain from the experiences, classes, webinars, books, successes and failures of each of them and they gain from ours. Find your planning partner by looking for that person who can help you grow. Your partner might be someone who teaches the same thing you do so that you can share resources, or your partner might be someone who teaches something else but can lend experience and wisdom to your planning. Check out Alec’s YouTube clip “The Networked Teacher Diagram Spreads  Around the World” in which he explains the power of open sharing of information.  

        Stacey Pylman wrote a Kappan article titled “In Co-planning, Scheduling is Just the Tip of the Iceberg in which she introduced the Co-Planning ICEBERG model. While it does not specifically address remote collaboration, it does provide powerful guidance applicable for those engaged in co-planning or mentoring  either remotely or face-to-face. I highly advise that you read this and share it with your others who are engaged with co-planning and mentoring; much is based on coaching the novice teacher yet is applicable to all co-planning.

      2. Set Norms for Communicating, Collaborating, and Timing.
        Lauran Moon wrote a 2018 Trello blog titled  6 Rules To Live By When You Work in An Office But Have Remote Team Members  that is remarkably relevant in the present Covid time. Trello is a team collaboration tool to make remote work more connected and meaningful. A friend recently introduced me to it and  are using it to plan future projects together.

      3. Choose Your Tools.
        Consider your skill and situation and those of your planning partner. I have a colleague who enjoys outlining his units in Trello then designing lesson plans and assessments in GoogleDocs, and communicates via Slack or Voxer. I gathered the following tips from an online master class I am taking on remote teaching at the college level.

        • Assume remote for all meetings.
        • Opt for planned meetings where there is a written record and everyone is included.
        • Put the video conference link in calendar invites so there is no scrambling right before the meeting.
        • Establish a process and structure around meetings so everyone can easily follow along no matter where they are located. See Stella Garber’s guidance in a Trello blog post titled “How To Give Your Team Meetings A Status Update.” 
        • Always assume positive intent in communication. Tone and nuance do not always come across over chat, thus assuming your colleague is coming from a positive place helps to smooth over any potential misunderstandings as they are being ironed out.


“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
– Booker T. Washington


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. 
– Helen Keller


1 Question

In remote working environments, trust is key.
How can we build trust with colleagues in non-academic ways?



About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.










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