Collaborative School Leadership

Fostering a productive school culture

Author: PrashantMehrishi, CEO, iTeach

Collaboration develops when entities recognize that none can succeed without the others.

A clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities through delegation and decentralisation of power.

Collaboration fosters a climate of working together accelerating positive changes in the school.

Stakeholders work together toward common goals and assume responsibility for every student’s success.

Collaborative leadership is a management practice built on collaboration and focused on the leadership skills across functional and organisational boundaries. All workplaces including schools operate on either of the five relationships given below:

  • Networking: most basic and informal wayfor individuals to work together. It Involves exchanging information and ideas and excludes working together on any activity
  • Communicating: aformal way for individuals to share information and ideas (newsletters, letters press releases, updates etc.). Little happens beyond the sharing of information through these formal mechanisms
  • Coordination:involves synchronizing operations or activities in order to make services more accessible and less redundantrequires more trust than networking and greater time commitments from people
  • Cooperation entails a much higher level of commitment and trust.It involves sharing of Resources, knowledge, staff, physical property; clients, money and reputation
  • Collaborationdevelops when entities recognize that none can succeed without the others.Each has special expertise or unique capabilities that the others need.

Each type of relationship identified above has special requirements and demands.As an institution proceeds from networking to collaboration, they take on more complexity, added commitments, time and resource requirements.Each relationship takes longer to develop and more supports and resources to sustain. Because of the required investments for relationship building, school leaders and managers should think strategically about what types of relationships they may want or need.

Characteristics Of Collaborative School Leadership

  • Trust: There should be trust and understanding between all collaborative members. Collaboration is built on mutual respect
  • Shared Responsibility, Power and Authority: A clear demarcation of roles and responsibilities through delegation and decentralisation of power
  • Decision Making Systems: With delegation, placing appropriate decision-making authority along with participation of every stakeholder helps in building commitment
  • Conflict Resolution Mechanisms: Flexibility to react to circumstances change and opportunities emerge and discovering new ideas of agreement and freedom to talk to express their views
  • Consensus Building: Collaboration works oninterdependence and symbiosis so leaders should help their people reach consensus. Only if they are in agreement, they will own the idea and its execution

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Building Collaborative School Culture

Collaboration fosters a climate of working together accelerating positive changes in the school.Stakeholders work together toward common goals and assume responsibility for every student’s success.This results in improvements in:

  • Academic achievement
  • Productive learning during out-of-school time
  • Attendance in school
  • School climate
  • Healthy youth development
  • School safety
  • Communication among providers
  • More resources and better utilization of them
  • Access to services; faster delivery of services

And reductions in

  • Problem Behaviours
  • School Suspensions
  • Duplication and fragmentation of programs and services, including service and program gaps
  • Feeling of isolation among agencies and people
  • Student transience

Key Outcomes of Collaborative Leadership

  • Shared ownership of goal setting and decision making
  • Shared responsibility for each other
  • Empowered teachers
  • Better commitment and improvement in teachers
  • Effective communication between all the stakeholders
  • A productive school culturecentered around learning

Thus, collaborative leadership focuses on strategic school-wide actions directed towards improvement in thelearning environment and shared among principals, administrators, teachers and others. It empowers employees, encourages broad spectrum participation in decision making and fosters shared accountability for student learning.  This results in developing a school leadership for promoting lifetime learning.

About the Author

PrashantMehrishi

PrashantMehrishi is the founder of iTeachFellowship, India’s first in-service Teaching Fellowship. It is a two-year professional development programme for regular teachers helping them polish their teaching skills. Mr Mehrishi is an MBA with fifteen years of corporate experience in the IT and Insurance sector. Despite a successful career, Prashant felt something core was missing and he found his true calling in the education sector. He joined the Teach for India Fellowship (TFI) from 2013 to 2015 where he piloted their entrepreneurial idea through the ‘Be The Change Project’ and post a great response, he started ‘iTeach’ to address the need of professionally trained and skilled teachers. Mr Prashant still is associated with Teach for India and is a founder member of TFI Pune Entrepreneurship Club.

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