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How We Get There

We all have a stake in our education system, and together we can raise the bar on student outcomes all while creating a better environment for everyone from educators to administrators.
Published: 07/2020

Key Takeaways

  1. Effective collaborative partnerships lead to an increase in student success, even in high poverty school districts.
  2. A culture of learning and joint problem-solving in our schools and districts increases teacher retention and empowerment.
  3. Our three-part framework for collaboration gives everyone a pathway to collective success.

Education stakeholders–families, educators, principles, district and state leaders–share a goal: great public schools for every student. But we stumble in implementing change when we don't have structures that allow everyone to share their experiences and experience.

When we have a process for collaborating, we commit to each other and our collective success. We aren't dependent on resources, or timing, or a particularly charismatic leader. We can implement the policies and programs that benefit students, schools, and the public education system. 

Collaborating in a Crisis

COVID-19 has put all education stakeholders under enormous stress, as we work to balance learning goals with their families’ health, economic, and social realities.

As Daniel A. Domenech, Executive Director of The School Superintendents Association, says, "Opening schools post-COVID is about so much more than just opening doors. The only way we succeed is if educators—teachers, principals, board members, and superintendents—work collaboratively to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for staff and students."

The only way we succeed is if teachers, principals, board members, and superintendents work collaboratively to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for staff and students.

With our peers in the National Labor Management Partnership, we've developed a guide to decision-making on when and how to reopen schools. It includes a structure for creating appropriate task forces and key questions to consider. With this resource and the framework above, we are confident communities can safely and collaboratively serve our students.

Download the guide.

Get Started

Prepare

In the first phase, focus on understanding the benefits of collaboration (increased student outcomes, educator retention, and association & administration roles in teaching and learning). Then, invite other stakeholders who might be interested in collaborating around student-centered goals. Seek commitment to collaborate. Here's how.

Act

Now you're ready to build the structures and processes needed to started collaborating. Form working teams (i.e. State partner group, district leadership teams, school leadership teams, working committees) and define within those teams how we will do our work and develop outcomes for what we want to accomplish. Determine the support services needed to train and support collaborative teams. Here's how.

Reflect

How do we know that we have achieved our goals? In the reflect phase, you will catalog successes and challenges and share lessons-learned with others. This analysis is key to repeating and sustaining our work because each time we cycle through the three phases of our framework, not only do we improve it, but we further embed our tested structures into existing systems. It is our way of creating change in a systemic and sustainable way. Here's how.

Download the Collaboration Guidebook

The Collaborating for Student Success guidebook includes a comprehensive framework for successful collaboration, grounded in research and on-the-ground practice, as well as a number of tools to support you in your own collaboration efforts.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.