Collaboration is one of our 8 #WomenEd values and is the theme for our 4th Unconference, it sums up everything our community stands for.
Bennie, my DHT, recommended (before we worked together) that I should read The Bees by Laline Paul and she was right as it really resonated with me and how our community works. We often make reference to the ‘hive mind’ and crowd source advice and ideas from the community.
Working collaboratively has characterised my career, it has brought me a lot of joy and opened a lot of doors for me, but when things have not been collaborative it has also caused stress for me. As leaders we need to know what our own trigger points are and people who are Queen Bees and those who work in a territorial way frustrate me.
For me collaboration is about removing barriers, finding solutions to problems, sharing the workload, sharing best practice, networking, being outward facing and connecting people, ideas and projects together. Collaboration is about being part of a team, about being part of something bigger than yourself and about seeing the bigger picture but understanding how you can contribute to a shared vision and team goal.
In a time when our profession is fragmented, collaboration builds the bridges between different groups of educators. I am often that bridge builder or as Ben at Leadership Matters has called me several times I am what Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point calls ‘The Connector’:
Connectors: “…people who link us up with the world, who introduce us to our social circles – … people on whom we rely on more heavily than we realize – are Connectors, people with a very special gift of bringing people together.”
Connectors are fantastic at expanding your network. They will say things like:
“Oh you should talk to …” “Have you heard about…” “Let me introduce you to ..”
They think in nodes, not individuals, and like nothing more than to help you. They see people first.
Connectors have the power to spark word-of-mouth epidemics.
In other groups I am just called ‘Cilla’ as I pretty much run a free introduction service and should be on a retainer or commission for recruiting for other schools! I encourage others to be outward-facing, to network, to push out of their comfort zone and to nurture relationships with fellow professionals.
#WomenEd is that safe space for collaborations to be sown and to grow; #WomenEd is the glue that holds the jigsaw pieces pieces together.
It is great watching the Regional Leaders extend our networks, I work closely with 25 educators in the East and West Mids who are a joy to collaborate with. There is a real buzz about our activity together.
Some ways in which I have developed collaborations as a school leader are detailed below.
- Cross-curricular projects – our STEAM team are creating some magic!
- Cross-phase projects – our primary and secondary sibling schools
- Leadership development – our Lead Practitioner and Spirals of Enquiry Model has been a great opportunity to collaborate
- Cross-MAT projects – we have lots of subject networks growing across GLF Schools
- Team drives on Google – are forging collaboration within teams
Externally face to face:
- Local and regional partnerships of Headteachers – Didcot Headteachers collaborate on local projects, Oxfordshire Headteachers have a primary and a secondary network with annual conferences
- GLF TSA partners – we work closely with a number of partners like VBE, SSAT and Whole Education
- STEAM collaborations – one of our most exciting growth areas – links with STEM providers and Arts organisations enrich our curriculum
- Cross Regional Networks – our Mental Health and Wellbeing Network has been nominated for a local community award, all funded by the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust
- National networks like The Chartered College of Teaching enrich our Professional Learning offer
- Cross sector networks like RSA give us perspective and links to the wider community
- Twitter – we are slowly getting our new team on there
- LinkedIn – we are constantly talent spotting and recruiting for the future
- Grassroots networks – where would we be without #womened #bameed #lgbted and #disabilityed
So our challenge is to encourage those who are connected and collaborating virtually to move in the light and meet each other face to face, to strengthen those professional friendships and to take their collaborations to the next level.
We really hope that lots of the #WomenEd community who following us on Twitter book to join us on 6/10 and move those virtual connections to real time collaborations. The community will warmly welcome you – anyone who works in education, any role, any gender, any background – there really is something for everyone. Check out our event details here.
Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher
Currently feeling hopeful about:
- The relationships I have fostered which are leading to interesting collaborations for me and exciting collaborations for our extended teams at our Aureus sibling schools.
Currently reading and thinking about:
- I have written a chapter for Matt Pinkett’s book on Masculinity and I am reviewing The Unexpected Leader by Iesha Small.
Currently feeling grateful for:
- My acupuncturist who has squeezed me in on a Sunday.
- The WM and EM #WomenEd Regional Leaders who are working together in a brilliant collaboration.