So here’s the truth: I don’t have the answer to how to create meaningful collaboration between the rulers of disparate educational kingdoms. If I did, I could probably start consulting and move into the real money in education. What I do have is a lot of experience in what didn’t work and a little experience in what has worked through my own experiences of trying to foster collaboration.
- Tap and Show Potential: the rulers of the kingdoms are pretty awesome people with a ton of talent and skills. Tap into that! A collaborative leader’s job is to connect the kingdoms and try to show the potential of alliances and collaboration by facilitating, not commanding it. Try to use inspiring, successful stories of collaboration, even if you have to go outside the district to find them, to show examples of what’s possible.
- Build Trust: rulers aren’t going to invest their precious resources and subjects with someone they don’t trust. Trust is something that is built over time. Start small and try to have success with small projects. Success will build success. Also, show that the rulers are trusted by not micromanaging them. Instead treat them as professionals.
- Make it meaningful: even if the starting collaborative projects are small, they need to be meaningful. Collaboration is not an end in itself, something that those responsible for overseeing it (me) often forget. This means that the collaborative projects should have a clear positive impact on students, programs, and school culture.