How to Collaborate With Administrators at Other Schools
While collaboration within schools is so important, sometimes principals get overlooked. Teachers are ever-present within schools, but there may only be one or two administrators within a building. It can be hard for principals to collaborate, share ideas, and find solutions for issues within their own schools. Obviously, principals shouldn’t share personal information about individuals within the school, but simply having someone who can relate is important. Finding ways to connect with other schools and administrators can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding to share burdens and find solutions. Some schools have even seen changes because their principals collaborate with other principals. Collaboration is crucial to school improvement.
Create a Principal’s Network
Within a network of local school districts, principals can create a network of similar schools. A monthly meeting over lunch allows you to step away from your duties and take a break while building connections with other principals. You can discuss problems and potential solutions as well as just have someone to talk to who knows what it’s like to be in your shoes. Be sure to exchange contact information to send each other emails of encouragement and assistance.
Being part of a network of other principals opens up opportunities to visit other schools. This is an excellent opportunity to see how other schools, both bigger and smaller in size, function on a day-to-day basis. School visits also show how principals interact and build relationships with staff and students. Sometimes it is just nice to get out and get a fresh perspective and some inspiration.
Another benefit of creating a principal’s network is the opportunity to develop shared goals. If you and several other principals are struggling with attendance, you can create goals and action plans together to help improve attendance. Then, check-in weekly to see how everyone’s plans are going, where adjustments need to be made, and how to encourage and support each other.
Several Milwaukee school districts created a collaborative principal group. They were able to share ideas and problems and help each other find solutions. This group was also able to band together to make their voices heard and get several school and district policies changed to benefit the students.
Use Social Media
Social media is a great place to foster relationships with principals and other administrators from around the world. This is a great option for a different kind of network—a personal learning network (PLN).
Twitter allows principals to follow any number of other people, including other principals, by expanding their personal learning network. You can find articles posted by other school administrators about leadership and even post articles they’ve found beneficial themselves. Sometimes sharing a funny meme that only principals can relate to causes a small smile or chuckle which can help each other’s emotional wellbeing. You can also follow any number of inspirational people that are not necessarily in the education field. There are celebrities and world leaders, like Eric Sheninger, who post and share ideas, articles, and quotes every day.
Facebook and LinkedIn are two other great social media options. As a principal, you can join— and even create—groups for school administrators, including educational organizations. These groups allow for sharing and a feeling of community.
All of social media is beneficial for school administrators because you can connect with other administrators not only at the state level but also across the country and around the globe. Imagine being able to help brand new schools in other countries get started on the right foot. Schools in foreign countries might even have different ideas to share with us in the United States that would benefit our own school systems. There really is just no limit to the connections school administrators can make when using social media.
Attend a Conference
Conferences are an essential part of collaboration for administrators. Principals and other administrators can step away from schools, take a deep breath, and learn more for themselves. The National Principals Conference or the American Association of School Personnel Administrators Conference are just two wonderful options for principals. Conferences give inspiration and connection to school administrators.
If attending a conference is not an option, consider attending webinars, where you can learn and collaborate from the comfort of your home. You’ll have the opportunity to interface with whomever is leading the webinar, but you can also build your PLN by getting to know other administrators who are taking the webinar.
Collaboration is crucial for school administrators. It can be a lonely place to stand at the top of the school, but with connections to other school administrators, it won’t be so isolated. Collaboration might even bring about life-altering change for your school. Don’t spend another school year in isolation.
Do you have any tips for collaborating with administrators at different schools? Tell us on Twitter @Schoology