Activity Guide

Staff and Professional Networks

Most school leaders will agree that their most limited professional resources are the time and opportunities to address their own personal learning needs and to collaborate with staff and colleagues. This activity will give principals viable alternatives that offer a variety of methods for addressing this dilemma; many require minimal financial resources. By utilizing the jigsaw expert reading protocol, the activity allows participating school leaders to gather a large amount of information in a relatively short period of time.



  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Sticky notes

Jigsaw Activity

  1. Divide participants into three approximately equal groups and ask each group to read one of the three reading selections. Provide the following information/instructions:
    • Each group will be reading about ways to address the need for leaders to network, collaborate, and learn from each other. One article proposes a rather traditional, formalized program; the second article offers ways to utilize modern technology; and the third offers a menu of approaches.
    • As you read, your goal is to become an “expert” on the content of the article so that you can share the most important information with those who have not read it.
    • As you read, highlight, underline, or otherwise identify the main ideas and other important information in the article.
  2. When reading is completed, ask participants to debrief their article with their group. They should agree on the main ideas or themes of their article, as well as what they think is the most interesting or worthwhile information to share. Tell them that the group will be “presenting” the content of the article to the larger group, so the group should decide on a method of presentation, prepare notes or an outline of their content, and create at least one visual using the chart paper and markers provided. The presentation should include what they think are the benefits of the networking and professional learning methods offered in the reading. Encourage them to include issues they may disagree with or find challenging, as well as the ideas they like. Ask them to conclude their presentation with at least one concrete recommendation for following-up on the information they have presented.
  3. Allow each group to make their presentation and answer any questions that arise.
  4. Debrief the session by asking the group:
    • What networking/professional learning strategies discussed today are things you are already trying? Would you like to share anything about the experience?
    • Was this information helpful to you? Is there any strategy you are interested in trying? What sort of help or support do you think you would need to get started?
    • Do you find the jigsaw approach to information gathering a useful one? Would you consider using it with your faculty or with students?

Extend and Apply

  1. If Internet access is available in the meeting space, have participants “sample” one or more of the educational con-versations on Twitter, the Connected Principals Blog, or one of the other social media tools referenced in Getting Connected.
  1. Join the Leading Success conversation on or sample the blogs in Reading II.
  2. Offer the following blog post reading which makes the case for using social networking tools to enhance educator confidence: