Educational leaders must foster an effective collaborative environment to ensure that teachers are able to support student learning. This important TLMS standard is embedded in the first two of Michael Fullan’s “Six Secrets of Change”: 1. Love your employees and 2. Connect peers with purpose. My experience has taught me that if leaders love their teachers, they will work hard to create a positive working climate. Additionally, they will ensure that each teacher has the collaborative skills necessary to take advantage of collaborative opportunities. In my work as a PLC facilitator and team leader for the Grade 11 Language and Literature curriculum, I’ve made use of protocols and norms to ensure that all group members’ viewpoints are heard, properly processed, and respected.
Artifact 1: Project-Based Learning PLC Tuning Protocol
As the facilitator for the PBL PLC at our school, I wanted to ensure that each teacher would have an opportunity to present their units for feedback based on our research of effective PBL practices. We used this tuning protocol over multiple sessions to provide unit feedback in a way that was “hard on content, soft on people.” After the protocol sessions, many teachers felt we should use the protocol for every unit! As an aspiring leader, I wanted to include this artifact as I feel that explicit protocols and procedures lead to enhanced understanding and efficacy for teams.
Artifact 2: The 7 Norms of Collaboration
In my department, we’ve struggled with collaboration in Grade 11 as there are five teachers for the grade level. For most other grades, there are only two or three. To collaborate efficiently and effectively, it became clear to me as team leader that we needed a more explicit framework in place. Recently, I learned about Adaptive Schools and we now have made several changes to our meeting structure. Agendas are always emailed one week in advance, and we begin meetings with this Seven Norms graphic which we place in the center of the table. The meeting begins with each member setting a focus norm as their intention for the meeting. Then, each meeting ends with a reflection on our success with norms and, generally, we’re much more consistent and efficient with our meetings.