Creating a Culture of Collaboration

 

picture: thevarguy.com

 

Last night I had the opportunity to participate in two great chats. #jedchat which I co- moderated with @dovemerson and @RabbiWex and #educoach which is moderated by some real twitter rock stars and personal friends @KathyPerret@Shiraleibowitz @PrincipalJ ( all of these Five educational leaders deserve a early #FF). Trust me when I tell you that afterwards I both energized and at the same time tired.

 

The interesting part is that both chats had a very similar theme and that is supporting teachers and creating a culture of teacher collaboration. As an administrator I have often said that what we want to see from our students needs to be modeled by our teachers and sometimes for our teachers. Meaning that if we want our students to collaborate and feel supported and safe then we as educators and educational leaders to model that, and therefore teachers need to collaborate and also feel safe and supported.

 

In the spirit of transparency and being open and honest at times this is hard. For one thing teachers tend to be very protective of their own “turf”/ classroom and from an admin point of view there are times that we need to take a tough or strong stance with teachers and they don’t always feel supportive.

 

Given that disclaimer how can we create a culture of collaboration and support?

 

Here are some of my takeaways and ideas from last night’s chats and I encourage others to add their own.

 

• We need to get in the habit of saying “We” and not I and “Our” and not “My”- sounds simple but this switch shows that we are going through things together and that we are all in the same boat and we are here to help and support each other

• Transparency- This need to begin at the top and school leaders need to model and show a willingness to be open and honest and share.

• A culture of taking risks- Teachers need to feel safe and that they are encouraged and allowed to take risks in a safe environment ( which leads to )

• Teacher Evaluations need to be about growth and support and not gotcha

• Sharing success

 

I want to be clear I am far from perfect and this post is also if not more a reminder for me. If I had one major goal/ resolution it would be to become a better educational leader/ boss/ all around better person.

 

originally posted on Principal’s Post Blog

13 Comments

  1. Great suggestions Akevy, sounds like they were really interesting Twitter chats! If a school can encourage a collaborative culture then CPD will be far more effective. Creating environments that fosters trust between colleagues, encourages dialogue surrounding practice and provides a forum for a shared vision is no mean feat, but there are many schools moving that way!

    Risk taking is also really important, supported experimentation where innovative and exciting practice is encouraged leads to much better teaching and learning. We recently wrote an article about a college who is actively encouraging their staff to do just this (if interested you can read it here: http://tinyurl.com/bnlmjwg)

    January 6, 2012
    Reply
    • Charlotte,
      Thank you for your comment. I believe we need to create a culture where our teachers and students are willing to take risks and see failure as a means to growth and not to shut down and stop.
      thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Akevy

      January 11, 2012
      Reply
  2. You are absolutely correct! No longer can we except a culture of isolation. Marzano and DuFour make it quite clear in their outstanding book, Leaders of Learning, that there is considerable evidence that when teachers work together on the right work, even for as little as one hour each week, we can expect gains in student achievement. The important question every school must address is not “Do we collaborate?” but rather, “What do we collaborate about?”

    As always, great job Akevy and thank you for taking the time to share! Shawn

    January 7, 2012
    Reply
    • Shawn,
      Thanks for the comment.
      You are so right collaboration should not be an option but a given.
      Thank you for sharing
      Akevy

      January 11, 2012
      Reply
  3. Janice Koslowski said:

    Another thought:
    There is something very powerful when we, the school lesders, model a willingness to admit mistakes and work collaboratively to fix them.

    January 11, 2012
    Reply
    • Janice,
      So true we need to lead by example
      Thanks for sharing
      Akevy

      January 11, 2012
      Reply
  4. Eric said:

    I’m sorry I missed the chats. Both sound like they were very powerful. I have really been trying to change my language to “we” and “our.” I agree in the importance. While a small shift, it really makes a difference in how we model as administrators and shows what we value. Thanks for sharing your “take aways” for those of us that missed the chats.

    January 16, 2012
    Reply
    • Eric,

      Thank you for your comment.
      I do agree that small changes are important and that often small changes help change the culture and open up the opportunity for larger and bigger changes.

      Thanks for sharing
      Akevy

      January 17, 2012
      Reply
  5. Lindsay Griffin said:

    I agree that in order to be better collaborators we need to think it as our instead of me and my. I have enjoyed reading this article.

    January 19, 2012
    Reply
    • Lindsay,
      Thank you for reading my post. I am glad you enjoyed it and thank you for taking the time to leave a comment

      Akevy

      January 19, 2012
      Reply
  6. I agree. In order to continually improve our individual teaching practices and help others on our team, we should be willing to share our ideas, accept constructive criticism without taking it personally and stay open to change. Collaboration should be a given, not a novelty in the world of teaching. We cannot work in isolation and expect to have a successful practice. Love the ideas and comments.

    January 21, 2012
    Reply
    • Kelly,
      Thanks for the comment. I have said many times that the ideas of 21st Century skills, like collaboration and creativity etc.. are not a novelty or something new but are just good teaching practices, both for students and teachers.
      Again thank you for your comment
      Akevy

      January 23, 2012
      Reply

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