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Reflections on 4 Years of Co-op Leadership

As we have been transitioning out of our homeschool co-op, I have taken the time to think about and ponder what it has meant to myself and my children. I have also given a lot of thought to how it felt to serve and lead the group. I have pondered how I can improve in my leadership in the future. I have also considered things that went well.

Reflections on my leadership style:

I like to bring people together. One of my favorite things is the synergy of introducing amazing people to each other and then seeing how they work together in amazing ways. I prefer to lead by example and quietly make adjustments here and there. The way I lead is strong and powerful, but sometimes people don’t recognize it as leadership. That is okay. If you need an in-your-face style of leadership to recognize it, there are plenty of other people out there who will give it to you. I am a leader who steps out into the dark and brings people along with her.

I am a leader who truly delegates. If I give you a job to do, I will trust you to get it done in your own way and style. You can truly stamp that project with yourself. I’m happy to offer ideas and suggestions, but I won’t dictate the specifics. I will allow you to adjust if things aren’t going well.

I like teams and the ideas of others, when they are excited and interested in the project. I don’t want to work with people who aren’t on board if I can help it. I won’t push you up the hill, but I will show up to give you a nudge at just the right moment.

Reflections on Things I would improve:

  • I don’t know if it is just life, but I think there has to be a better way to discover those who don’t want to work at all in a co-operative setting quicker. Maybe this idea is a pipe dream, but if I was to be in a leadership role in a homeschool co-op again I would try to identify this tendency sooner. Because, in the end, people who don’t want to do anything are a huge drain on everyone.

Mistakes I made:

  • Waiting too long to step in when there were problems. This is the opposite side of the coin to the positive ways that I lead others. As I delegate and release the responsibility, it can be hard to know exactly when to step back in if things aren’t going well. I think the last four years have taught me how to be better at this one!
  • Not speaking up sooner when my instincts told me a particular family wasn’t a good fit for our group. It was crippling to have people who didn’t respect others or want to contribute. Usually, these people left the group on their own, but not before damaging the cohesion of the group.

Reflections on Things that were amazing:

  • Certain things are just best learned in a group. If you are going to go to the trouble of dissecting frogs, you might as well do that with 10 people as with two. Science especially lends itself to groups.
  • Regular time spent with other families builds real friendship and bonding. There’s really no way around this one. Our best friendships have developed because of a solid base of time spent together.
  • I know some really amazing people! I’ve been so privileged to work with and create friendships within the co-op setting.

Things I would do again:

  • We would join a homeschool co-op again if we decide that is the right thing for our family. Even though we are moving away from that experience right now, there were a lot of positives in our co-op experience.
  • Building a community is important. Even though it will look different, connecting with other people and families is still going to be a big part of our big part of our lives. I’m hopeful that many of our co-op friends will still be part of our community, and I know we will have many more experiences together. I can’t wait to meet and enjoy new friendships also.

Even as I share these reflections, I know that there are many lessons still to be learned from our experiences. Four years is a long time to dedicate to a project. We have have had a lot of great things happen and a few that were less than ideal. All in all, it has been a worthwhile experience with a lot of wonderful dividends.

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