The Collective Purpose; Building a Googlesque School Culture
Collaborative culture is a great buzz term. It evokes images of happy employees gathering around tables strewn with papers and markers and maybe a few Starbucks cups. People are brainstorming genius ideas, exchanging high fives, and basking in the gloriousness of their productivity. A collaborative culture built around a collective purpose is workplace nirvana. There is no doubt that it is foundational to high-performing teams and high-performing schools.
So what’s the secret behind building such a Googlesque work environment?
A skillful leader who possesses the talent and tools to align everyone’s strengths, efforts, and areas of improvements toward the collective purpose. And how do you get everyone pointed in the same direction?
Start with a Personalized Goal Plan
A Personalized Goal Plan is intended to develop educator talent focused on very specific outcomes. Personalized Goal Plans enable everyone to work toward the same outcome, but in their own context, their own level of rigor, and with their own level of support. The Personalized Goal Plan makes clear the collective purpose, the steps needed to achieve it, and the type of support that will be provided .
The Personalized Goal Plan has three parts: (1) Goal Statement; (2) Objectives; (3) Action Plan.
(1) Goal Statement
The first step is to create a goal statement that is clearly aligned to the school’s collective purpose. It includes both a student learning component and an instruction/pedagogy component.
To ensure that everyone is focused in the same direction, the student learning component should be an identified content area that supports the school’s overall goals.
The instructional component should be in an area that focuses on the teacher’s instructional practice. This may be a particular instructional strategy, such as cooperative learning, student engagement, or a specific element from the educator evaluation instrument, such as critical thinking.
By February 2017, Mr. Smith will show increased proficiency in the ability to plan and deliver instruction in the element of Monitor and Adjust as evidenced by improved element scores and improved student achievement in the content area of Number and Operations-Fractions as evidenced by improved assessment scores on district benchmark assessments.
There are three different types of objectives that cover the three main parts of instruction: (A) Planning; (B) Instruction; and (C) Student Learning.
The planning objective states what the educator will do when planning the lesson. Since groups of educators often will plan lessons together, this objective is especially helpful in creating a collaborative culture.
For example: Mr. Smith will plan the questions he will ask students, at increasing levels of depth, at each sub-objective, for each lesson.
The instruction objective states what the educator will do while teaching the lesson.
For example: Mr. Smith will utilize the planned questions during his lessons in order to surface learning misconceptions that may interfere with learning.
(C) Student Learning
The student learning objective states what the desired student outcome will be of the planning and lessons.
For example: All student sub-groups will increase benchmark assessment scores in the area of Number and Operations-Fractions
(3) Action Plan
There are three different components to the action plan. These components ensure the educator is receiving the necessary support to achieve the desired result. Action plans also communicate to the educator that “you are not in this alone.” The components are: (A) Who Supports; (B) How Will They Support; and (C) How Often Will They Support?
(A) Who Supports?
It is important to identify who will be supporting the educator in meeting the desired objective. Will it be an instructional coach, a peer mentor, or the building administrator? Or could it be an electronic solution or a professional development course?
(B) How Will They Support?
What will the support person or resource do to support the educator? Will they meet to have a reflective conference, provide specific resources, or model the behaviors? Or will the resource provide specific steps, theory, or additional examples?
(C) How Often Will They Support?
How many times, or with what frequency will the educator be supported? Daily, weekly, or monthly? And is there a specific time-frame support will be given?
Goal planning for each individual will create the foundation for building a culture of collaboration. Each educator will understand how their talents are contributing to the collective purpose and feel confident that they are being supported. It is a very effective strategy for knowing your educators, understanding their needs, and letting them know you are investing in their success.