Friday, March 29, 2013

Collaboration: Practice What You Preach

As educators move from isolation to collaboration, there is a learning curve. This learning curve is challenged in some ways by current evaluation systems that utilize individual teacher's students' scores as part of the process which creates a somewhat competitive arena in schools rather than a positive, collaborative culture.

Research points to the strength of collaboration and collective thought when it comes to serving children well, and it is our professional responsibility to engage in this collaboration in ways that benefit children. What does this collaboration look like?

As I move in this direction, I find that there are constructs and practices I support, but I also find that I have questions and areas for growth.

I believe that collaboration benefits from the following practices:
  • Establishment of educational teams that are sized with the right numbers and adequate diversity to serve children well.
  • Collective vision and a short list of meaningful, positive collective goals.
  • Shared protocols.
  • Adequate time for efficient, targeted collaboration.
  • An online base for shared materials and meeting notes.
  • Leadership support and involvement.
The questions I hold about collaboration include the following:
  • How does my team view collaboration, and where are my thoughts similar and dissimilar with regard to theory and practice in this regard?  We've actually never really talked about this.
  • As we move forward with greater collaboration, how should we revise our protocol?  We started the year with protocols, but I believe we need to revisit these as now that we've worked together we can see areas for growth in this regard.
  • What is our collaborative, short list of goals?  What is the emphasis of our collaboration?  Again as our collaboration grows, I believe we need to revisit our vision, goals and mission in this regard.
Listening to Michael Fullan last night as part of the 2013 Leadership Summit awakened my thoughts with regard to the promise and responsibility for collaboration in schools today.  Also, a member of my PLN recently recommended I read Intentional Interruption as I further my knowledge and practice in this regard.  The move to greater collaboration in schools will serve to build our schools with strength and community as we teach children well, and it is the responsibility of individual educators and learning communities to devote time, research and support in this regard.