4 ingredients to building collaborative teams in schools


At the start of a new school year many educational leaders will begin to set goals for what they hope to achieve individually and also with the support of their team. Being able to lead collaborative teams is an essential component for establishing school improvement yet it can often be a challenging task getting individual teachers to work together.

As leaders, focusing on our own behaviours first we begin to set the conditions for building great teams. There are 4 ways that we can do this:

Trust and confidence: Trust is the number 1 asset for a successful leader. Without it we cannot progress. Trust inspires confidence. We need to engage in trust-building behaviours and minimise those actions that may be trust-reducing (see The Bank Balance and Staff Morale).

Communication: The way in which we communicate with our team can make or break its ability to function well. We need to select the appropriate communication channels when working with others and in doing so ensure that we make effective use of them. The type, amount and clarity of the information that we convey is closely linked to the trust that we establish with our team. The communication platform that we provide for team members to provide input to the work and performance of the team.

Networks: Our connections to information and other experts allow us to provide a wealth of support to teachers. Professional learning networks are an attribute of our knowledge base. Being able to provide our colleagues with knowledge, skills and training through our networks is invaluable.

Conflict resolution / tension reducing skills: Leading teams of adults is challenging. Our ability to handle conflict and tension that will arise from time to time between team members is vital in allowing a team to move forward and grow together. Avoidance of conflict and tension will only lead to frustration and anxiety within the team.

As we know a team is more than the sum of its parts and Together Everyone Achieves More. The leader is the glue in bringing the team together and helping it function effectively.

Published by Richard Bruford

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology. With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools. Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin. In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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