In the December 2017 issue of The Learning Professional, Executive Director Stephanie Hirsh reiterates what we know about collaboration and adult learning; that is, learning is social and learning together makes a difference. Unfortunately, just getting together without clear goals and actionable items, does not make a collaborative approach particularly useful or effective.
Stephanie suggests five important fundamentals to integrate when developing the standards for collaborative work: 1) Clarity of purpose where teachers can share intentional goals for the learning and make deliberate plans to work together towards achieving these goals. A shared vision creates a community. These goals are meaningful and not amorphous. They lead towards action; 2) Norms of collaboration where colleagues respect one another and collectively decide what is important and how the goals will be achieved; 3) Resource allocation is critical and where administration plays an important role. Teacher teams need to be given ample opportunities to work together in an environment that welcomes creativity and collective problem solving. The teachers’ voices need to be heard and honored in a non-evaluative setting; creative problem-solving where a variety of perspectives are shared helps encourage “thinking out of the box”; 4) Facilitation and support are essential in keeping the flow of the meeting moving in a positive direction; the place for venting is different than a place for making recommendations for school wide improvement. Facilitation is a skill and it is different from presenting a professional development session; 5) Accountability for results is important when collective responsibility is the norm and all staff are considered members in a community of learning and practice… one for all and all for one!
As a coach, which of these fundamentals are you able to encourage in your school wide collaborative planning?