I appreciate the writing of Educational expert Michael Fullan. He has written extensively about his view of how schools can embrace the professional practices of an oustanding learning culture, and one that closely aligns with my view of how to create a school for the future.
“Collaborative Professionalism” happens when educators commit to really work together and share knowledge, skills and experience to improve student achievement and well-being. Collaborative professionalism transforms culture by continuously lifting everyone involved in the ecosystem. When the entire school’s faculty and staff are both teaching and learning, nurturing and being nurtured, giving and receiving help, the whole system gets better.
Fullan’s diagram (below) shows the elements of collaborative professionalism that he says interact, feed on each other, and self-correct. They operate like a flywheel— accelerating once on the move.
In a culture of collaborative professionalism:
Teachers have autonomy and trust — the freedom to choose how they teach, which fosters creativity, collaboration, ownership, and a sense of self-worth.
Teachers want to learn together, with and from each other — there is a culture of continuous learning.
All faculty and staff work together to improve learning — there are no special or elite groups in a school, just one team committed to students.
All faculty and staff are committed to continuous professional growth and improvement — teachers and administrators participate in the culture as learners.
Teachers seek ideas, sort them out individually and together, and press for precision of pedagogy in terms of what works best for a given student, crafting custom learning experiences.
Innovation is valued — all faculty and staff have a growth mindset in which they listen to, learn from, bring out, and support colleagues’ smart new ideas.
In this globalized, technology-rich world where change is constant, school quality will be closely tied to the ability of the faculty to adapt to the times. A culture of collaborative professionalism can bring out the best in teachers and support them through periods of uncertainty, and toward growth.