This past school year was my second in the role of principal. During this time I have asked for help in creating a schedule, asked for advice on repairing a professional relationship with a colleague, looked for support on planning for the upcoming school year as well as sought council on how to support a staff member and friend who didn’t get a leadership role in my building. As I reflect there is one thing that has been driven home during these first two years as school principal; collaboration is key.
Collaboration has made me easily ten times better than I would be if I was trying to figure things out on my own. At times I have been unable to sleep as problems and solutions chase each other in my mind like a crazed dog chasing its tail. Each time I collaborate with a mentor, a colleague and/or in a Facebook group the decision making processes smooths and ideas that I couldn’t have thought of on my own are revealed. All the successes that have occurred within the school this year are based on collaboration. Below are two simple ways I bookended the school year using collaboration as a tool to 10x my leadership.
Beginning of the Year
Collaboration is a team concept and obviously begins even before the official start of school. It’s something that we all know intuitively but sometimes we get so caught up trying to get something done that we forget. Gathering the advice and listening to the point of view of those on your staff is important in building a strong culture and helps lead to successes. Treating your entire staff as integral parts of a whole, not only highlights your integrity as a leader but also creates the opportunity for more wins. Each of these first two years I’ve brought the staff together early to plan out the first day and the first two weeks. This has brought energy, enthusiasm and accountability as each person understands their role and sees their input implemented
End of year
Not only does collaboration bring accountability it is also useful as a strategic evaluative tool. Collaborating is a great way to eliminate, diffuse, or at least mitigate anxiety over things like the evaluation. Instead of just dropping our evaluative conclusions on staff, like a ton of wordy bricks, we need to work with them and let them self-evaluate using the district tool. In addition have them create an online portfolio where they can upload evidence of their success. Balance that with your walk through and formal observation data. Make sure to leave opinions out and stick to observed evidence.
Once both of you have worked separately to “rate” the year or a specific lesson come together and discuss your findings. I’ve found that this type of collaborative process eliminates a lot of push back and helps give the teacher/staff member a sense of control over the process. Working together will build a partnership where both parties are striving towards the same goal.
Collaboration leverages multiple perspectives and will 10x your leadership. It is also one of the many tools principals and education leaders need when driving a school towards success. What are some other tools that are necessary for a strong building leader. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......