Magazine article The Learning Professional

Collaboration Aligns a Vision for Success

Magazine article The Learning Professional

Collaboration Aligns a Vision for Success

Article excerpt

Educators in successful schools and districts have found that implementing professional learning communities at the school level can be effective for sharing vision, beliefs, and strategies that align with their system's overall strategic plans. I work in Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, where professional learning communities have become the norm as a model of a changed culture and shared vision. As Frances Ivey, assistant superintendent at Fairfax County Public Schools, notes, "Our emphasis on professional learning communities has emphasized the need to work collaboratively, study the data, and focus on each child, by name and by need."

For a professional learning community to take hold across an organization and become self-sustaining, it must be part of a shared vision and leadership model. Parents, teachers, staff, students, and the leadership team within and across all levels, roles, and functions must set goals and feel personally responsible for its success and failure, as well as enabled and empowered to demonstrate leadership skills as needed.

I remember when I first realized the importance of shared vision. I was participating in professional learning on collaborative leadership and professional learning communities. The * speaker opened with an illustration showing that just because the captain of a ship can clearly see the destination, that doesn't help at all if the crew paddles in a different direction.

As a high school and middle school principal, I found that professional learning communities were critical to student academic success. However, I knew we could go further and that it would take even deeper collaboration.

Our greatest success in achievement came when our system reorganized into regions. Within each region, schools are clustered into pyramids of feeder schools - one high school, one middle school, and several elementary schools. …

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