By Lynn E. Foster
Covid-19 has changed the way school leaders collaborate with their staff, there is no doubt about that. Some teachers feel more alienated than ever from their fellow staff members, others feel liberated by the freedom of working from home. Teachers also are leaders. They lead their students and in a collaborative work environment, they lead one another. Even if it is more challenging, like during a pandemic, there are many compelling reasons to create space for your team to collaborate and grow together. The attributes of a collaborative school are many. In fact, any work space is better when everyone has a positive and open attitude about collaborating with one another.
- If collaboration is taught and supported people will work harder and with more satisfaction when they feel their voice is heard and valued when it comes to school decision-making. (Schmuck, Bell and Bell, 2012 p. 3).
- People gain trust in one another and in the process of change when decisions are shared.
- Through collaboration, schools or classrooms harness the intelligence, experiences and creativity skills of a collective body of human resources; this provides a broad and rich foundation of knowledge through multiple perspectives.
- Impactful leaders best serve by supporting and encouraging others to be themselves, freely explore, and voice concerns and opinions, without fear of negative or harsh judgments or embarrassment.
- Courageous leaders are willing to debate and problem-solve with their team to gain better understanding of all perspectives. They are open to being wrong or leaning from others.
- Great leaders instill the values of collaborative ownership in the success of the school or classroom, they freely share all successes.
- Mindful leaders provide the resources and support needed for the success of all.
- Effective leaders challenge their teams to provide opportunity for growth and success for everyone.
Research proves that to create growth-minded cultures, leadership understands that highly productive staff are trusted and involved in decision-making processes. A leader can create a collaborative school culture by building relationships of mutual trust with those who work with her or him (Romzek, 2013).
A good way to start collaborating is with a single question to draw in those you lead; maybe ask for ideas to solve classroom or school problem. Ask if there are any suggestions to make a lesson or class better for them, perhaps. Really any question will work as long as it’s sincere and the leader’s response is thoughtful and kind to everyone who offers their bit of collaboration. Always remember that a little sincere and specific positive feedback when collaborating builds others up in a big way and encourages their future participation.
Happy Collaborating Everybody!
Romzek, D. (2013). Multipliers and diminishers. Michigan School Business Officials eNews & Views Newsletter. Retrieved from http://www.msbo.org/newsletter/multiplier-and-diminishers
Schmuck, R. A., Bell, S. E., & Bell, W. E. (2012). The handbook of organizational development in schools and colleges. (5th ed., pp. 1-340). Santa Cruz, CA: Exchange Point International.