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?
- 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?
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?
- 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?
Investigate how other schools have created a culture of shared influence. Review these sources:
- Discuss the questions from this excerpt of a discussion guide.
- Review and discuss pp. 33–45 (Collaborative Management) of the Teacher-Powered Discussion Guides.
- Identify ideas from Determining a collaborative leadership model and Working that your team might consider applying at your school.
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.
- 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?
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?