Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Effective networks = Collaboration

Collaboration is a key theme in my research question and in my reading I have found it is closely linked and underpins effective school networks. Santiago & Fullan (2016) equate effective networks with collaboration that deepens learning, grows professional capital and is a positive driver for system improvement.
They say that on its own mandated collaboration (top-down) nor grass roots (bottom-up) collaborations will work. Effective school networks need both approaches. 
In the NZ setting you can see CoLs (Communities of Learning) as being driven from the top down; although necessary as they provide the resources, structure and support necessary to sustain long term collaboration. Offset this with grass roots collaborations that have been happening for many years - ICT PD clusters, VLN communities, LCN networks & many more. These have been where the heart of collaborative practice and communities of learning have grown in NZ but have been unsustainable because they have lacked the ongoing systems resources and support.

Dr. Cherie Patel-Taylor
Patel-Taylor (2014) supports this view distinguishing between systems collaboration and a culture of collaboration. 
Systems collaborations are more technical in nature - structures, roles, resourcing - they are necessary but not enough on their own. A culture of collaboration takes place in the the learning spaces within and across classrooms and schools, and involves a focus on sharing practice, co-constructing new learning and evolving cycles of inquiry.  Patel-Taylor (2014) defines collaboration as “the process of sharing learning and engaging in dialogue, to create joint new learning that informs future actions focused on the learning of leaders, teachers, students and/or the wider community, over time” (p 8).

School leaders need to be just as concerned for students in all schools as they are in their own schools - this is indicative of a higher moral purpose and 'Systemness' where people deliberately contribute to and benefit from the larger system (Santiago & Fullan 2016). It can be illustrated as well in this adaptation of Spackman's Model:
Derek Wenmoth - adaption of Spackman’s Moral Scale of decision making

  8 features of effective networks

  1. "focussing on ambitious student learning outcomes linked to effective pedagogy;
  2. developing strong relationships of trust and internal accountability;
  3. continuously improving practice and systems through cycles of collaborative inquiry;
  4. using deliberate leadership and skilled facilitation within flat power structures;
  5. frequently interacting and learning inwards;
  6. connecting outwards to learn from others;
  7. forming new partnership among students, teachers, families, and communities;
  8. and securing adequate resources to sustain the work."
    (Santiago & Fullan, 2016, p 10)
Essential features of effective networks in education - Santiago & Fullan 2016
What features do you recognise in your schools cluster, CoL or network? Where are the missing pieces that would make your network more effective and sustainable? Read Santiago & Fullan's work linked below for a really good overview of this.

Santiago Rinc√≥n-Gallardo, & Michael Fullan. (2016). Essential features of effective networks in education. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 1(1), 5–22. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-09-2015-0007
Taylor-Patel, C. (2014). Networking – Weaving the net; gathering the pearls. Auckland, N.Z. Retrieved from http://appa.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Cherie-Taylor-Patel.pdf
Wenmoth, D. (2013, February 16). Change or Die: vision, trust and support. Retrieved 30 April 2017, from http://blog.core-ed.org/derek/2013/02/change-or-die-vision-trust-and-support.html
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