Collaboration At Work

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Collaboration At Work

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Schools get graded. Teachers get anxious. Parents get upset. Administrators get pressured.

With all the new pressures, how can teachers maintain a balance and meet expectations?

Ask the teachers at two Eau Claire, Wisconsin schools and they will tell you to collaborate.


A recent article outlined the problems encountered by the schools and how the teachers came together  with administrators and the community to make positive changes.

After two years of poor state evaluations, Lakeshore School had to make some changes.

Principal Colleen Miner said the staff chose to collaborate rather than complain.

She spoke of the teachers and support staff buying “in to the drive to do whatever it took to help students achieve at a higher level.”

Math coach, Marti Hardy, echoed this mindset.

“The teachers were really eager to try anything new,” [he] said. “We started collaborating more in all subject areas, but particularly in math. The teachers have been very willing to share their expertise with each other.”

Miner described the benefits of a collaborative environment to Lakeshore school included:

  • an increased focus on student learning,
  • a strengthening of internal leadership,
  • expanded parental involvement, and
  • greater community engagement

Similarly, Sam Davey Elementary School, as of Eau Claire Schools, achieved a significant increase in achievement through the use of collaborative efforts.

The article reported, “We have excellent staff, excellent students and excellent families,” principal William Giese said, crediting the “community of learning” the school has fostered among those stakeholders for the progress.

It was, according to Giese, the “new emphasis on collaboration among staff and family engagement” that led to the schools recent success.

So how can a school collaborate?

How does collaboration start?

According to @HerminiaIbarra and @MortenTHansen, “connectors are critical facilitators of collaboration”.

A collaborative leader generates the necessary momentum to gets things moving and the required supports to use inertia to its greatest advantage.

In the Harvard Business Review article, “Are You a Collaborative leader?

Ibarra and Hansen describe four skill areas commonly associated with a collaborative leader:

  1. They play the role of the connector.
  2. They attract diverse talent.
  3. They model collaboration.
  4. They show a strong hand to keep teams aligned.

Who fits the bill in your grade-level team? Your school? Within your district?


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