Monday, January 25, 2016

Collegiality and Changing School Structure

As elementary schools begin to take on new structures, roles, and routines, I am wondering how we meet those changes in ways that matter.

In many cases elementary schools have had a patriarchal or matriarchal structure with one or two leaders at the helm and many teachers who report to those leaders. This family-like structure, in a sense, is a top-down structure. Newer models of education are focusing on the positivity of shared or distributed leadership and teacher leadership. These new structures create the need for new ways to think about the way we meet, share ideas, and develop schools.

In some ways these changes at the elementary level may begin to mirror departments in high schools and college/university levels, and with that in mind, should elementary school teachers and leaders look to literature about successful collegiality at these levels with new models of teaching and learning in mind.

On the other hand, the way we are asking teachers to teach and students to learn at high school and the college/university level now mirrors, in some ways, the way school has often been taught at the elementary level with greater open, differentiated, multi-modal programs for learning that meet a child where he/she is. So while elementary school leaders and teachers may gain insight by looking at collegial models from high school and higher ed, higher ed and high school may gain insight by looking at how elementary schools teach students in more holistic, interdisciplinary ways.

In summary, to grow our schools, we have to look for models outside of our school levels and contexts--we need to look for those who have insights as to the roles we want to embrace and the ways we want to develop in order to do a better job as we teach children well.