Collaboration among District Leaders
Collaboration among top school district leadership is a challenging but essential component for executing the mission and vision of the district. Individually, each member brings his or her own experience and expertise to the district. Together, they move the district down the path of excellence.
Oftentimes, collaboration falls by the wayside not because administrators don’t see its value but because they are busy with their own day-to-day tasks. In order for collaboration to work, it needs to be a priority among district leaders.
Here are some tips for cultivating collaboration among your district’s leadership team, which might include the superintendent, deputy or assistant superintendent(s), and directors of various departments, such as finance, technology, curriculum, human resources and facilities.
- Appoint a team leader. The most obvious choice for team leader might be the superintendent, but the leader could really be any member of the group. Perhaps the human resources director is a natural collaborator or the chief financial officer is exceptionally organized. Have the entire team discuss and appoint the person who will be responsible for facilitating meetings and ensuring the group stays on task.
- Find the time and make it count. Schedule a regular time for the leadership team to meet, but be sure to make these meetings efficient and effective. Between meetings, encourage administrators to continue communicating with each other informally with any pertinent updates or new information.
- Set clear goals. Start by considering the district’s overall mission and vision and discuss ways the team can work together to dive in and expand upon them. Agree on a focus or objective and brainstorm strategies to reach that goal.
- Outline responsibilities. Determine who will be responsible for each component of the collaboration, such as who will set the meetings, who will email meeting recaps to the group, and who will be in charge of collecting data to measure the team’s effectiveness. Assigning team roles up front will help the team work more efficiently from the start.
- Stay flexible. Team members should always be prepared to adapt as conditions within the district or the education industry itself fluctuate. Goals and objectives are subject to change as needed.
- Solve conflict. Conflict among team members is not unusual. Before conflict occurs, decide how it will be resolved with strategies that focus on de-escalation and compromise.
- Study results. Remember that the point of collaboration is to move the school district forward in a positive way. Check in periodically to see if the group’s strategies are, in fact, accomplishing goals. Look at outcomes and data to ensure individual members are following through and to keep the team as a whole accountable for its work. Be ready to adjust goals or strategies as needed based on the results you find.
Each member of a leadership collaboration should be willing to strike a balance between the needs of the individual (and his or her department) with the needs of the district as a whole. A spirit of compromise from each member is a key component for a successful collaboration. When collaboration is done well, the students of the district are sure to benefit.