Teams and Shared Leadership
Now is not the time to go it alone.
Yes, we love heroes … those strong individuals that have all the answers … but we are also quick to turn on them. Now, more than ever, we need each other. Each of us have strengths … and weaknesses. Those collective strengths are needed to get us through these trying times.
We know from school research that teacher teams with “collective efficacy” have one of the highest effect sizes for student learning (1.39). The only higher effect size is “teacher expectations” which, arguably, can be the result of collective efficacy.
Indeed, Collective Efficacy is what we all crave at this moment in time. Each of us is seeking certainty and that sense of competency and self-confidence. We find that strength in teams and by working together, learning together, leading together. Together we pool our wisdom. Alone we puddle our limited knowledge.
With apologies to DuFour, the universal team questions might include:
- Shared goals – what do we need to know and do?
- Destination – how will we know when we get there?
- Problem Solving – how will we respond when we don’t get there?
- Celebrate and Delegate – what do we do when we succeed?
Consider a buddy system to bring back more students. In one of my early assignments we had 1000 migrant students come join us each April. We assigned each incoming student to a buddy to ensure they had an advocate and a friend at school. Teachers who have created a “community of learning” are, no doubt, seeing higher attendance and engagement.
We know PLCs work. If you don’t have them, now might be a great time to start. Teachers can share the load dividing up: reading and math; planning and delivery; in class or online. And if you do have them, now may be a time to build back better by increasing the shared leadership and efficacy.
On the front line and constantly in the middle! PLN’s – Principal Leadership Networks are a great way to promote learning by principals and for principals. Group principals in teams similar to PLCs. Give them a safe place to share ideas and vet plans. And keep holding those forums where principals can give input and stay informed. Make principals a key part of your learning … and leadership … team.
Rely on your cabinet. Build on their strengths. Delegate. Work on team building. And make sure every district leader is connected with a team, if not through cabinet, in another group that meets regularly. Individuals without support are at risk … and can put others on edge by sharing anxiety and uncertainty.
Now especially, board members need to be linked in as plans change. No one likes surprises. Keep board members informed and keep checking on them to see how they are doing.
Hold forums often through zoom or Facebook. Use chat to take questions. Answer online … and if there are too many … answer the rest later on your web site.
What to do in Uncertain times?
- Call the meeting. Model teamwork. Meet more often, not less.
- Focus on the future. Keep assuring that “we will get through this.”
- Structure tasks. Scaffold the work. Pair people up. Check for understanding.
The research is clear – teams make better decisions. They know each other’s strengths and leverage those skills. They engage in give and take discussion that brings out the best ideas. They follow through on group decisions and make mid-course corrections. In essence, they create collective efficacy.
But wait there’s more …
Social Emotional Efficacy
Going it alone takes a toll … on every person up and down the organization. By connecting individuals to teams we share the load and increase our emotional health. In Teams to the Rescue (Education Leadership; October 2020), Jill Harrison Berg, points out that teams:
- Connect us with others … reducing our sense of isolation.
- Give us a time and place to talk through experiences and concerns
- Provide a source of empathy
- Help keep us focused on the goal
Teams create a self-sustaining cycle.
By working together, we accomplish more and therefore have higher confidence which gives us extra energy for working harder and then we do indeed accomplish more.
Sharing, according to Tom Vander Ark, is the new super-power. – Better Together