Collective leadership for collective impact

South Carolina's Collective Leadership Initiative (CLI) supports schools to collectively redesign strategies needed to meet the needs of all students. Educators in CLI schools found that skills developed through CLI proved valuable as they addressed a number of instructional challenges resulting from the pandemic.

The challenge

As the pandemic hit, CTQ had already been working with the South Carolina Department of Education’s Office of Educator Effectiveness and Leadership Development (OEELD) to support the development and implementation of the Collective Leadership Initiative (CLI) in 24 schools. Everyone knew that this was complicated work even in the best of times. Yet, schools reported that the implementation of collective leadership through CLI allowed their schools to come together, leverage the skills of all educators, and effectively address the challenges related to the sudden shift to online learning.

Collective leadership. Collective impact.

Our Collective Leadership Playbook is an in-depth resource that schools can use to begin implementing collective leadership.

Learn More

The strategy

When CLI was developed, CTQ supported a design team of South Carolina educators in crafting their Theory of Action for CLI:

If we develop a cohesive vision of collective leadership and a framework of differentiated support and implementation, then we will be able to support equitable access to excellent educators in all schools and districts and improve student performance through the following:

  • Effective collective leadership teams;
  • Improved perceptions of the teaching profession;
  • Increased teacher recruitment, retention, and advancement opportunities; and
  • Effective teaching and data-responsive instructional practices.

Watch this video to hear from educators in CLI schools.

As the pandemic caused significant shifts, the strategy moved to supporting school teams to leverage collective leadership to face the challenges of virtual schooling. Monthly check-ins became opportunities for CLI schools to share strategies across teams and learn from one another.

Our CLI schools have not only survived, but thrived. I cannot tell you how many times the educators leading our CLI schools made the statement that they could not have been successful during the pandemic had it not been for how they do everything in their buildings through the mindset of “collective leadership.” We’re hopeful that this spirit of collective leadership will be a lasting positive legacy of the crazy COVID year.

Olivia Ortmann, Education Associate, South Carolina Department of Education

The process

CTQ provided support to OEELD for the development of the protocols and systems in which school teams would engage. These include learning modules, monthly check-ins, virtual site visits, and personalized supports. School teams use data gathered from two surveys – systems conditions and educator efficacy – to inform their work and measure progress over time.

The CLI model involves three phases over three years: Designing, Implementing, and Cultivating. Each phase in the model allows for school teams to deepen their understanding and implementation of collective leadership practices in their schools. Teams also develop leadership skills to build capacity and scale the model.

Outcome

As a result of this work:

  • CLI schools showed improvement in five of seven conditions for effective implementation of collective leadership (Vision and strategy, Supportive Administration, Enabling Work Structures, Supportive Social Norms and Working Relationships, and Constructive Organizational Politics);
  • 100% of schools reported that collective leadership helped them address the challenges associated with the sudden shift to virtual learning.
  • 62% of CLI schools showed an overall increase in teacher efficacy; and
  • Walker-Gamble Elementary School was recognized as one of only three schools to receive the Palmetto’s Finest award.

Collective leadership leverages the talents of all educators in schools.


CTQ supports teams and system leaders to design and implement collective leadership at the school, district, and state levels.

LEARN MORE AND GET STARTED


4 Minutes

Collective leadership playbook

Are you interested in exploring the power collective leadership might have for your school or district? The Collective leadership playbook contains numerous resources that will guide your team through the decisions and tasks associated with planning, launching, and implementing a collective leadership pilot or initiative with a group of educators. Let’s get started.

Great leaders don’t set out to be a leader.
They set out to make a difference.
It is never about the role it’s always about the goal.

– Lisa Haisha

Collective leadership is a set of practices ensuring that team members participate in important decisions impacting student learning and schoolwide success. Traditional approaches to leadership tend to focus on developing individual leaders in general ways. Collective leadership practice is different in that it considers the purpose for leadership first, then embeds relevant skills within every classroom and team in a school or district. The purpose is not to develop individual leaders but to develop leaders collectively focused on the work across a school.

When we say effective collective leadership, we mean that not only is a team of educators sharing the work of leadership but that they’re doing so in ways that move the school(s) and students for whom they’re responsible toward improvement and innovation that creates excellent, equitable learning opportunities.

We define effective collective leadership as “a team of educators sharing the work of leadership in ways that move their school(s) and students toward improvement and innovation by creating excellent, equitable learning opportunities.”


There are seven system conditions needed for effective collective leadership implementation (see the table below).


System conditions for collective leadership


What are these tools?

The strategy guides linked below are aligned to the system conditions and intended for use by teams of educators (teachers and administrators) who are looking to initiate or strengthen collective leadership structures in their schools. They are intended to help facilitate ongoing collaborative team discussions that lead to action and are grounded in CTQ’s understanding of how to lead sustainable change. These discussion guides are intended to help guide and unify teams as they identify challenges, set goals, and evaluate the impact of their work.

We suggest your team start with the playbook overview. Once you have worked through the overview, your team may choose to take on the condition of greatest need or greatest strength. Whatever you choose, be sure it is an intentional decision.

Does your team want help deciding on the most strategic path for your school or district?

Use the button below to send us a message. We would love to support your team’s journey.

How can CTQ help you move forward?


4 Minutes

Orientation to improve

Never be afraid to fail. Failure is only a stepping stone to improvement.

Never be overconfident because that will block your improvement.

 – Tony Jaa


Interested in how your school is doing with possessing an orientation to improve? Use one of the self-assessments in the linked document below.

What do we mean by orientation to improve?

What orientation to improve looks like: Teachers are encouraged by administrators to test innovations in curriculum, pedagogical delivery, and assessment with each other and track the relative success of those changes. Teams of teachers and administrators meet to regularly check progress based on observable evidence to reflect, make course corrections, and determine what is most beneficial to students.

When we say improvement, we sometimes default to thinking about how we can implement known best practices better or with greater fidelity. As a result, improvement efforts traditionally focus on training people in particular skills or monitoring to be sure everyone is following particular practices or protocols. For instance, if we know a particular strategy for teaching early literacy skills is most effective, we might start by offering professional development sessions to teachers to be sure everyone knows how to use that strategy and follow up with observations to check that everyone applies it.

That approach works when there is a clear problem with a clear and well-known technical solution like an obvious knowledge and skill gap. But many of the problems and challenges we face with students and in schools and school systems are more complex, requiring us to change mindsets and long-standing habits. We say that these are adaptive challenges, which involve changing our assumptions not only about solutions but also about the nature of the problems and needs we face. 

At some point, most change efforts require adaptive change to be successful. For example, imagine that we find that not every teacher who received professional development implemented the new strategy — a pretty common result in a training effort. We could become frustrated and threaten disciplinary action to mandate implementation. But based on prior experience, we can also predict that some teachers will still not respond. Perhaps they don’t understand the strategy well enough yet, don’t have enough time or support to implement it consistently, haven’t been shown evidence about how this will help them and their students, have evidence that their students need another approach, or simply feel resistant to change. Getting curious about why the challenge exists and taking small risks to address those root causes are more effective ways to be sure that the changes are implemented.

Risk-taking should always be informed by reflection — both on the root causes of the challenge or problem to which you’re responding and on evidence that helps you better define potential solutions. The reward for risk-taking is not necessarily achieving immediate breakthrough success. The reward is learning how we can get closer to success for the long term and modeling for students the messy but important process of improvement. Therefore, schools with a strong orientation toward improvement tolerate risk because it is necessary for learning. Through this orientation, a productive struggle will lead to impactful innovation.

"Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection."

– Mark Twain

Why is an orientation to improve important?

There are always ways in which we can improve, both personally and professionally. Having a mindset that embraces that notion is one way to ensure that your team has an orientation to improve. That is not to say that we shouldn’t celebrate our successes. On the contrary, celebrating successes is one way to acknowledge and close one goal in order to prepare and set another. And learners, whether students or teachers, need to recognize when they have achieved something, then consider how they can improve from there. This process is crucial to the continuous improvement cycle, and when the orientation to improve is lacking, it is not surprising that no change occurs.


Is your team ready to dive into the work of strengthening the orientation to improve for collective leadership? Complete the form below to get access to all of the conditions strategy guides.



5 Minutes

Strategy guide:
Orientation to improve

1. Understanding your team’s why


Nearly all educators possess an orientation to improve. It is the nature of the work. Even when an entire class does well, questions linger about how this student or that student might be able to do just that much better. Or if everyone grasped a concept, educators consider how they might have pushed the learners that much further along. Just as educators ask themselves how students might go further with their learning, so too must we ask these questions of the adult learners in our schools. Collective leadership is a different way to approach the work of schooling. Even those schools that have implemented some degree of collective leadership likely have ways in which they can improve. Let’s explore where your team is with orientation to improve and how you might move forward from where you are to where you would like to be.



Goal: Establish a theory of action

What do you need to learn from the staff at the school about their orientation to improve? What questions do you have about how orientation to improve looks, and how will answers to those questions help you create a plan for how to increase your school’s orientation to improve?



Big Questions


  • Think of a time when you did something really well yet continued to adjust so that you could do even better.
    • How did you know that the work went well?
    • Think about particular kinds of evidence: perceptions from students or colleagues, observed shifts in behavior, or more traditional data like records of attendance, disciplinary action, or achievement scores. How did you acknowledge or celebrate what you did well?
    • What mindsets or questions were in place that made you think you could do better?
    • How did you approach creating a plan for improvement?
    • What risks did you take?
    • What was done to create a safe space to try new things and learn from “failure”?
    • To what degree are the current climate and structures at your school comparable to the situations described in questions a–f above?
  • What would an even safer environment for inquiry and risk-taking look like? What might administrators and teachers need to know and do to make it safe to take even more risks?
  • How might strengthening orientation to improve at your school support your efforts to address issues of diversity, equity, and cultural competence?
  • What is your team’s theory of action for how your team can develop or strengthen the orientation to improve at your school?



Important Tasks

Discuss why it is important to your team and for your context to develop or strengthen the orientation to improve at your school. 

Collect and discuss information about the questions above with your team. From that data determine what the biggest challenge or barrier is to developing or strengthening your school’s orientation to improve. Be sure to focus on challenges and barriers that are within your realm of control.

Discuss why that barrier exists. Brainstorm ideas for how your team might address that barrier. Select one approach to addressing the barrier. Your team will use this to create a theory of action about how addressing that barrier will impact the school.

Develop your team’s theory of action about how to address the barrier and take your schools from where you are to where you would like to be relative to orientation to improve.



Connect and collaborate
Teams frequently struggle with developing a theory of action. Remember to articulate your goal and identify the problem of practice before developing the theory of action.

Need help crafting a theory of action?





2. Designing your team’s how


Are you ready to create a plan for how your team will strengthen your orientation to improve? Remember that ensuring the presence of an orientation to improve will help avoid maintaining the status quo.



Goal: Prepare to lead action

Are you ready to create a plan for how your team will strengthen the orientation to improve at your school? Remember that having an orientation to improve will help your team move beyond the status quo.

What will you take on first? Who should be involved? What is the timeline?  How will you measure success?



Big Questions


  1. What does the information your team collected and your theory of action about the ideal state of orientation to improve tell you about what your best next step might be?
  2. How might your team be explicit and transparent about the shifts your team is making to increase orientation to improve?
  3. How will the team support teachers and administrators as they become vulnerable and work towards increasing their orientation to improve?
  4. What is your timeline for this first effort?
  5. How will your team know when we have made progress?



Important Tasks

Read Inquiry-Based Teaching and host a discussion. How might the concepts covered in this research brief apply to educator (administrator and teacher) learning? How do we create the same type of learning conditions that are described in the brief for educators?

Based on what your team learned from the article choose a specific idea to test. The idea that your team chooses should either amplify a currently-existing strength or address a specific challenge. Use data from one of the self-assessments in his guide to inform your team’s choice.

Complete the Purpose Map to set the vision, identify the people who should be involved, and create the initial action plan for testing your team’s idea. For ideas about how to design and implement a pilot, check out the structure and resources in this micro-credential or contact CTQ.


Complete and use an action timeline tool like the one below to clearly articulate what will get done by whom and how the team will know that you have been successful.


Is your team interested in support for using these tools? Do you need hard copies?





3. Implementing your team’s plan


Now that the team has articulated the why and how for the orientation to improve, it is time to implement your team’s plan.


What does your team need to do to implement and learn from the plan?

The implementation phase of the work is about much more than carrying out the components of your team’s plan. In order to ascertain the effectiveness of the plan, data must be collected for evaluation. It’s helpful to remind yourself of your original goals as you prepare to gather the feedback needed.



Goal: Launch your team’s test, gather data, and study the results

Once the test is underway, gather the data needed to answer your burning questions. Analyze the data and results of your test. Decide whether your team wants to revisit orientation to improve or move on to another condition.



Big Questions


  • How will your team create and maintain a safe environment for those involved to provide honest feedback?
  • What feedback is needed from those involved in this effort?
  • How will that feedback be used to make adjustments along the way?
  • How will your team know when it is making progress?




Important Tasks

Implement the plan for how your school will develop or strengthen your orientation to improve.

Collect data from participants about progress made relative to developing or strengthening the orientation to improve in your school.

Create a process for how your team will respond to the data/feedback provided.

Want assistance measuring the impact of your efforts?



 




 

CTQ’s tools

Understanding your teams’s why
1. Establishing a Theory of Action

Designing your team’s how
2. Purpose map
3. Action timeline

Implementing your team’s plan
5. Impact assessment 


10 Minutes

Shared influence

What we need to do is learn to work in the system, by which I mean that everybody, every team, every platform, every division, every component is there not for individual competitive profit or recognition, but for contribution to the system as a whole on a win-win basis.

- W. Edwards Deming


Interested in how your school is doing with creating a culture of shared influence for collective leadership? Use one of the self-assessments in the linked document below.

What do we mean by shared influence?

What shared influence looks like: Teachers and administrators are regularly observing others’ practice and providing feedback around shared goals. Both teachers and administrators invite feedback for improvement.

Schools that demonstrate high levels of shared influence between teachers and teachers and teachers and administrators are exemplified by open-door policies. Teachers can come to administrators with challenges or suggestions, and classrooms are open for reciprocal observation and administrator walkthroughs. These types of schools are not hierarchical and leadership is not “distributed” as if leadership is a series of tasks that an administrator doles out. These schools emphasize collective teacher efficacy, the belief that each student in a school can learn because of the effectiveness of each teacher, and they depend on the collective expertise of the entire faculty and administration, particularly as it relates to teaching and learning. Schools with strong shared influence do not operate in a top-down manner, nor do they operate in a grassroots, bottom-up manner. Leaders work together in a flat organization where shared goals drive the work. Strong schools leverage the expertise of all to determine shared goals, track progress toward those goals, and aggregate feedback from members of the team.

The importance of shared influence

The task of educating all of our students is too big for one person to be singularly responsible for achieving. Yet, our system is structured so that administrators are frequently designated as the people responsible for achieving that goal by managing the what, how, and when of teacher work. Unfortunately, this system is antiquated and sets up educators (both administrators and teachers) for burnout (see table below). 

A culture of shared influence must be present in order for the power and potential of collective leadership to be realized. Shared influence allows the work of educating all of our children to become a collective endeavor and provides a means by which to leverage the knowledge, skills, and talents of all of the adults in a school. Without shared influence, burnout is likely to ensue.


Is your team ready to dive into the work of creating a culture of shared influence for collective leadership? Complete the form below to get access to all of the conditions strategy guides.



3 Minutes

Strategy guide:
Shared influence

1. Understanding your team’s why 

Most schools maintain the same hierarchical structures that have been in place for the past 100 years. Over the last 50 years, the requirement that all teachers have college degrees has been implemented nationwide. Unfortunately, school structures and decision-making processes have never accounted for that significant shift in teacher preparation and qualification.

During an even shorter timeframe, the role of principal has expanded to include responsibilities that in a similarly sized business would be the responsibility of several people. Principals are now responsible for budget/finance, safety/security, marketing/communications, food services, school operations, discipline, instructional leadership, and evaluation. In short, the job of principal has become undoable.

This condition for collective leadership is focused on creating a culture of shared influence, one means by which the knowledge and expertise of teachers can be leveraged in most cases to lead issues related to teaching and learning so that administrators can take on their other numerous responsibilities

Goal: Establish a theory of action

What do you need to learn from the staff at the school about their knowledge, skills, and talents to create a culture of shared influence? What questions do you have about how a culture of shared influence looks? How will answers to those questions help you create a plan for creating a culture of shared influence?

Big Questions
  • Think of a time when you shared responsibility with others to identify and address a challenge.
    • What formal and informal structures were in place?
    • What autonomies and flexibilities were you afforded?
    • What interpersonal and communications skills were needed?
    • How did you manage differing perspectives?
    • What was done to create a safe space to express divergent viewpoints, try new things, and learn from “failure”?”
    • To what degree do the current culture and structures at your school align with what was described above?
  • What structures are currently in place for formal and informal leaders to decide and do (share influence) beyond their own classroom context?
  • What opportunities currently exist for reciprocal feedback among teachers and administrators? What additional opportunities exist?
  • How might strengthening our culture of shared influence support your efforts to address issues of diversity, equity, and cultural competence?
  • What is our theory of action for how we can strengthen our culture of shared influence?
Important Tasks

Discuss why it is important to your team and for your context to create a culture of shared influence.

Collect and discuss information about the questions above with your team. From that data determine what the biggest challenge or barrier is to creating a culture of shared influence. Be sure to focus on challenges and barriers that are within your realm of control

Discuss why that barrier exists. Brainstorm ideas for how your team might address that barrier. Select one approach to addressing the barrier. Your team will use this to create a theory of action about how addressing that barrier will impact the school.

Develop your team’s theory of action about how to move forward from where you are to where you would like to be relative to creating a culture of shared influence

Connect and collaborate
Teams frequently struggle with developing a theory of action. Remember to articulate your goal and identify the problem of practice before developing the theory of action.

Need help crafting a theory of action?

2. Designing your team’s how

Are you ready to create a plan for how your team will strengthen the culture of shared influence at your school? Remember that having a culture of shared influence will help your team avoid burnout.

Goal: Prepare to lead action

Are you ready to create a plan for how your team will create a culture of shared influence? Remember that having a culture of shared influence will help your team avoid burnout.

What will you take on first? Who should be involved? What is the timeline?  How will you measure success?

Big Questions
  • What do the information collected and your theory of action tell your team about the best next step for creating a culture of shared influence?
  • How might your team be explicit and transparent about the shifts that are being made to create a culture of shared influence? How will we ensure that these efforts are not being seen as a way for administrators to unload some of their responsibilities onto teachers?
  • How will your team support administrators as they become vulnerable and work towards creating a culture of shared influence?
  • What is your team’s timeline for this first effort?
  • How will we know when we have made progress?
Important Tasks

Investigate how other schools have created a culture of shared influence. Review these sources:

Based on what your team learned from other schools that have engaged in this work, decide on what approach will work best for your context. Choose the idea that your team will test for creating a culture of shared influence.

Complete the Purpose Map to set the vision, identify the people who should be involved, and create the initial action plan for testing your team’s idea. For ideas about how to design and implement a pilot, check out the structure and resources in this micro-credential or contact CTQ.

Complete and use an action timeline tool like the one below to clearly articulate what will get done by whom and how the team will know that you have been successful.

Is your team interested in support for using these tools? Do you need hard copies?

3. Implementing your team’s plan

Now that the team has articulated the why and how for shared influence, it is time to implement your team’s plan.

What does your team need to do to implement and learn from the plan?

The implementation phase of the work is about much more than carrying out the components of your team’s plan. In order to ascertain the effectiveness of the plan, data must be collected for evaluation. It’s helpful to remind yourself of your original goals as you prepare to gather the feedback needed.

Goal: Launch your team’s test, gather data, and study the results

Once the test is underway, gather the data needed to answer your burning questions. Analyze the data and results of test. Decide whether your team wants to revisit shared influence or move on to another condition.

Big Questions
  • How will your team create and maintain a safe environment for those involved to provide honest feedback?
  • What feedback is needed from those involved in this effort?
  • How will that feedback be used to make adjustments along the way?
  • How will your team know when it is making progress?
Important Tasks

Implement the plan for how your school will create a culture of shared influence.

Collect data from participants about progress made relative to creating a culture of shared influence.

Create a process for how your team will respond to the data/feedback provided.

Want assistance measuring the impact of your efforts?

 

CTQ’s tools

 

Understanding your team’s why
1. Establishing a Theory of Action

Designing your team’s how
2. Purpose map
3. Action timeline

Implementing your team’s plan
5. Impact assessment


10 Minutes

Relationships and social norms

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.

Babe Ruth

Interested in how your school is doing with creating trusting, transparent relationships and social norms for strong collaboration? Use one of the self-assessments in the linked document below.

What do we mean by relationships and social norms?

What relationships and social norms that support strong collaboration look like: When teachers and administrators disagree over the direction the school is moving, they address those differences respectfully with observable evidence and seek to understand the other. In schools with supportive norms and working relationships, going public with practice is expected and celebrated.

The previous four constructs are typically necessary for supporting the final three constructs. As schools attempt to develop collective leadership, they are best served by leveraging vision and strategy, supportive administration, capacity and resources, and enabling work structures in the service of supportive norms and working relationships, shared influence, and orientation toward improvement. 

Supportive norms and working relationships refer to how teachers interact with each other and with administrators. In schools where these norms and relationships are strong, teachers and administrators seek to communicate clearly and provide feedback to each other that is respectful and improvement-oriented and that emphasizes student outcomes. 

Strong collaboration does not guarantee everyone will always agree. In schools with supportive norms, teachers and administrators celebrate and support each other as they risk and learn, but they also challenge one another when they disagree or have divergent ideas about how to improve. 

The importance of relationships and social norms

Trust is the foundation on which relationships and social norms are built. Relationships and social norms are a necessity for the deep collaboration that collective leadership requires. As your school moves toward a more collective leadership model, educators will need to take risks — the types that come along with trying anything new. When educators trust each other enough to try new things together, relationships strengthen — making growth more likely. Without trusting relationships and social norms, friction can occur — making progress difficult (see table below).


Is your team ready to dive into the work of strengthening relationships and social norms for collective leadership? Complete the form below to get access to all of the conditions strategy guides.




3 Minutes

Strategy guide:
Relationships and social norms

1. Understanding your team’s why

Relationships and social norms can be tricky in a professional setting. Some people are more likely to understand the need for trusting relationships than others. And others, rightly so, are very clear that professional colleagues are not their personal friends. Yet even in the professional context, relationships and social norms matter because they can bolster or limit the degree to which strong collaboration occurs.

Goal: Establish a theory of action

What do you need to learn from the staff about the relationships and social norms that are needed for strong collaboration? What questions do you have about how relationships and social norms impact collaboration, and how will answers to those questions help you create a plan of action to address any issues that are identified?

Big Questions
  • Think of a time when strong relationships supported efforts at professional collaboration around a challenging issue. If possible, think of a time when you engaged in strong collaboration even though you may not have liked the other person/people.
    • What was it about those relationships that made you feel safe to engage with the group?
    • What social norms were in place?
    • How did the group handle divergent perspectives and opinions?
    • How were those resolved?
    • What skills did the group have and employ to be able to disagree yet come to an agreement about how to proceed?
    • To what degree does the current climate at your school align with what was described above?
  • How might stronger relationships, social norms, and collaboration benefit educators (administrators and teachers) and students in your school?
  • What impact might strengthening relationships, social norms, and collaboration have on your efforts to address issues of diversity, equity, and cultural competence?
  • What is your theory of action for how your team can develop or strengthen relationships, social norms, and collaboration?
Important Tasks

Discuss why it is important to your team and for your context to strengthen relationships and social norms for collaboration at your school. How might students and your school community benefit from strengthened relationships and social norms.

Collect and discuss information about the questions above with your team. From that data, determine what the biggest challenge or barrier is to strengthening your school’s relationships and social norms for collaboration. Be sure to focus on challenges and barriers that are within your realm of control.

Discuss why that barrier exists. Brainstorm ideas for how your team might address that barrier. Select one approach to addressing the barrier. Your team will use this to create a theory of action about how addressing that barrier will impact the school.

Develop a theory of action about how to address the barrier and take your schools from where you are to where you would like to be relative to relationships and social norms for collaboration.

Connect and collaborate
Teams frequently struggle with developing a theory of action. Remember to articulate your goal and identify the problem of practice before developing the theory of action.

Need help crafting a theory of action?

2. Designing your team’s how

Are you ready to create a plan for how your team will strengthen relationships and social norms for strong collaboration? Remember that having relationships and social norms for strong collaboration will help your team avoid friction.

Goal: Prepare to lead action

What will you take on first? Who should be involved? What is the timeline?  How will you measure success?

Big Questions
  • By collecting information and developing a theory of action, your team will have a clearer sense of how an ideal state of relationships and social norms for strong collaboration should look.  Based on this, what are your best first, second, and third steps to achieving this ideal?
  • How might your team be explicit and transparent about the necessary shifts that must be made to create stronger relationships and social norms for collaboration? What is the plan for communicating what these shifts involve and how to go about making them? (Hint: Revisit the change matrix for clues to all the components that should be considered to impact change, such as, such as vision and strategy, supportive administration, capacity and resources, and so on.)
  • How will the team support administrators and teachers as they become vulnerable and work toward stronger relationships and social norms for collaboration?
  • What is our timeline for this first effort?
  • How will we know when we have made progress?
Important Tasks

Review any or all of the following resources to learn more about effective teams.

Identify an idea or approach that your team would like to test either from the reading above or from some other source. The idea chose should align with your team’s vision for collective leadership and address an identified need from a self-assessment.

Complete the Purpose Map to set the vision, identify the people who should be involved, and create the initial action plan for testing your team’s idea. For ideas about how to design and implement a pilot, check out the structure and resources in this micro-credential or contact CTQ.

Complete and use an action timeline tool like the one below to clearly articulate what will get done by whom and how the team will know that you have been successful.

Is your team interested in support for using these tools? Do you need hard copies?

3. Implementing your team’s plan

Now, that the team has articulated the why and how for strengthening relationships and social norms for strong collaboration, it is time to implement the plan.

What does your team need to do to implement and learn from the plan?

The implementation phase of the work is about much more than carrying out the components of your team’s plan. In order to ascertain the effectiveness of the plan, data must be collected for evaluation. It’s helpful to remind yourself of your original goals as you prepare to gather the feedback needed.

Goal: Launch your team’s test, gather data, and study the results

Once the test is underway, gather the data needed to answer your burning questions. Analyze the data and results of your initiative. Decide whether your team wants to revisit supportive administration or move on to another condition.

Big Questions
  • How will your team create and maintain a safe environment for those involved to provide honest feedback?
  • What feedback is needed from those involved in this effort?
  • How will that feedback be used to make adjustments along the way?
Important Tasks

Implement the plan for how your school will strengthen relationships and social norms for strong collaboration.

Collect data from participants about progress made relative to strengthening relationships and social norms for strong collaboration.

Create a process for how your team will respond to the data/feedback provided.

Want assistance measuring the impact of your efforts?

 

CTQ’s tools

Understanding your team’s why
1. Establishing a Theory of Action

Designing your team’s how
2. Purpose map
3. Action timeline

Implementing your team’s plan
5. Impact assessment


10 Minutes

Collective leadership playbook: Team tools

The tools below are intended to be used by teams working to design and implement collective leadership. It is imperative that the team model collective leadership during the design and implementation process. We suggest forming a leadership team comprised of educators in various roles with diverse perspectives. The work of the group must be transparent, and the group must regularly consider ways to scale collective leadership beyond the leadership team and include an increasing number of people in the process.

Remember to bookmark this page so that your team can quickly return as needed.

Click on the conditions below to access online and downloadable versions of the strategy guides.

Vision and strategy

Supportive administration

Capacity and resources

Enabling work structures

Relationships and social norms

Shared influence

Orientation to improve


1 Minute

Enabling work structures

We know that the best way to create ownership is to have those responsible for implementation develop the plan for themselves. . . It simply does not work to ask people to sign on [to a plan] when they haven’t been involved in the planning process.

- Margaret Wheatley

Interested in how your school is doing with ensuring enabling work structures for collective leadership? Use one of the self-assessments in the linked document below.

What do we mean by enabling work structures?

What enabling work structures look like: Teachers and administrators have time to plan together to set shared goals. Teachers have time to observe each other, provide peer feedback, and grow into hybrid roles that allow them to lead without leaving their classrooms.

The way work is designed for productivity impacts every work sector. The way schools design the work of teachers and administrators often determines how successful their improvement efforts will be. Effective work design that we have observed in schools includes 

  • co-teaching; 
  • collaborative planning time; 
  • analysis of student work; 
  • reciprocal observation where teachers observe each other; 
  • peer feedback; 
  • job-embedded professional learning for teachers and administrators together; 
  • professional learning communities built around identified needs; and 
  • hybrid roles for teachers and administrators. 

If leadership is about work toward shared goals, then the work must be designed around those shared goals in order to support the people best suited to do the work. 

In general, any work design that allows effective teachers to spread their expertise is useful. Specifically, effective work design looks like teachers creating learning experiences and assessments together, observing one another teach, and examining student work collaboratively. When administrators also engage in this work, they can catalyze school improvement by facilitating coherence and learning from and with teachers.

The importance of enabling work structures

Educators are already overwhelmed with the number of tasks and responsibilities that they have been assigned. Over and over again, the issue of time is cited as perhaps the biggest challenge to getting everything done. Collective leadership is not another thing to do; rather, it provides an opportunity to rethink and redesign how work gets done and by whom. 

In order to rethink and redesign how work gets done, enabling work structures must be created and implemented. Without enabling work structures, collective leadership, or any new endeavor, will not be sustainable. Integrating enabling work structures into the way your school approaches the work will signal its importance and that this is not just another unnecessary workload addition.


Is your team ready to dive into the work of creating enabling work structures for collective leadership? Complete the form below to get access to all of the conditions strategy guides.




3 Minutes