How effective school leaders can use collaboration for greater success
School collaboration is one of the best and fastest ways to improve the effectiveness of a school. Effective school leaders soon realize the importance of using their entire staff to run a successful school. Successful leaders are not afraid to give their staff and parents the opportunity to help make good decisions that will improve their schools. The saying, “Two heads are better than one,” sums up the concept that a team can work smarter together than individually.
A school principal can begin the collaboration process by organizing key staff members to serve as part of a school cabinet. This cabinet is charged with helping the principal make successful decisions for the entire school. This cabinet may be made up of Assistant Directors, counselors, a Dean of Students, administrative staff, and some academic staff, to name a few possibilities. Cabinet meetings should be weekly, if possible.
When the cabinet works as a team, they can collaborate together on decisions that impact the school. The director must lead the group and ensure that all cabinet meetings are conducted in a productive manner. Cabinet members have the opportunity to discuss what is happening in their departments or at the school. The cabinet may also use its meeting time to ensure that all school activities are properly organized and have proper supervision. In addition, the principal has the opportunity to see what is working and what is not working in the school. Collaboration is the key to the success of these cabinet meetings.
Another collaborative program that has proven successful is Professional Leaning Communities (PLC). These are a group of educators who meet regularly, share their expertise, and work collaboratively to improve their teaching skills. PLCs are great for developing a culture of collaboration among teachers, which will carry over to help all students learn at a higher level.
To be successful, PLCs must provide teachers with the opportunity to share responsibility for developing appropriate skills and content for students, schedule enough time for teachers to collaborate, and ensure teachers can access key resources. In addition, teachers must have the positive support of school leadership. Then they will be fully successful.
Another collaborative strategy involves the parents of the students. Research has told us that parent involvement is one of the top keys to student success. School leadership must be willing to go out of their way to collaborate with your parents. This goal can be achieved by:
1. Organize a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) or PTA (Parent Teacher Association)
2. Offer new volunteer opportunities for parents
3. Encourage parent participation in parent-teacher conferences
4. Develop clear communication procedures
5. Allow parents to join school committees
6. Have an open door policy for parents
7. Preparation of a manual for parents
8. Create a parent center at the school
9. Organize and schedule an annual Open House
10. Develop an ongoing partnership with the community
The three collaboration strategies listed here are just a few of the many opportunities school leadership can use to run an effective school.