The creation of a collaborative culture requires skillful leadership

Dennis Sparks

Teacher isolation is so deeply ingrained in the traditional fabric of schools that leaders cannot simply invite teachers to create a collaborative culture. They must identify and implement specific, strategic interventions that help teachers work together rather than alone. —Richard DuFour

If the goal is quality teaching in all classrooms for the benefit of all students, then it is essential that principals and teacher leaders create a high-performance culture which has professional learning and meaningful teamwork at its core.

The creation and maintenance of such a culture against the forces of entropy require intentional, skillful leadership. It does not happen by accident.

Successful principals and teacher leaders are clear about the attributes of such cultures and take daily actions to promote them.

They understand, for instance, the importance of:

  • and promise keeping (we understand that continuous progress requires making and keeping our promises to one another).

In your experience, what specific, strategic interventions help teachers work together rather than alone?

8 Responses to “The creation of a collaborative culture requires skillful leadership”

  1. 1 whatedsaid February 18, 2015 at 5:16 am

    1. Autonomy. Trust. Not being micromanaged.
    2. Encouraging leadership at all levels.
    3. Shared beliefs and vision.
    4. Protected time…
    I could go on!

  2. 3 carla February 18, 2015 at 7:03 am

    At the root of culture is a value system so it is necessary to inspire others to value collaboration. Therefore, modelling collaboration is important as well as supporting collaborative efforts. For example, whole staffs need to feel their opinion is valued by working together to make decisions for the school, for example whether to participate in a board event and what time to have it. This builds trust in one another’s capabilities and gives ownership for the school. With trust goes autonomy. Daniel Pink in his book Drive advocates for supporting autonomy, mastery of skills and purpose to serve the greater good. All three of these together work towards motivating people to collaborate.

  3. 4 Brian Koning February 18, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Great post! You are absolutely correct that high-performance cultures do not “just happen” – leadership is required to create an environment that fosters this level of collaboration. You may want to check out The Leader in Me initiative as an example of a model that is purpose built for this very thing

  4. 6 Jamie February 18, 2015 at 11:49 pm

    Teachers need time to make collaboration possible. If leaders want to encourage collaboration, putting time into the schedule for it to occur is a must.

  5. 7 Kent Peterson March 18, 2015 at 10:38 am

    This is so true–without daily routines to shape the culture it can wither and die. A simple action as the “School Tour” during which leaders comment, support and encourage staff can reinforce positive energy and commitment.

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