Culture of Collaboration

Confession time: I hate educational buzzwords. I’m sure you could probably think of several buzzwords immediately that we hear all the time in education. One that we often use is collaboration. Now don’t get me wrong, I love collaboration, I just think we use the term very loosely.  The term is used every time teachers or principals meet together, even when the process more resembles simply working side by side and occasionally bouncing ideas off one another. True collaboration is a lot more work and much more messy. True collaboration involves giving up control and trusting the process over our own vision. I openly admit that collaboration pushes me outside of my comfort zone. I’m great at “collaboration” when it involves sharing my ideas and meeting with teammates. I’m not so good when it requires giving up control and I especially struggle when I’m not the person initiating the collaboration.  That’s why what happened to me recently is so surprising.

A few weeks ago, my friend and fellow principal, Allyson Apsey,  approached me with an idea. She had a vision of the two of us leading a live forum where we would discuss issues facing educators and use costumes and props to make it entertaining for the viewers. I said yes, before I really thought about it. Allyson has an enthusiasm that is contagious and she made it sound so fun! The next day, I realized I didn’t know how to facilitate a Facebook live video, what our topic would be, and that I wasn’t sure what we were getting into. In short, I panicked! That night I walked the dog as I often do to clear my head. When I got back home, I instantly started a shared document that we could record ideas with.  My first idea was for a name, The Principals Playhouse, since we were going to be dressing up for each episode. I then sent over a rough outline of some ideas. The next morning, I got a reassuring “YES!” from Allyson along with ideas that she had and our collaboration was off and running. The next week we had a Google Hang Out after school to try out our material and days later we went live!

This experience showed me how much I need to grow as an educator. It showed me that my normal collaboration is simply meeting with others, but never really giving up control. It also showed me that my risk taking is often calculated toward projects that I’m fairly certain will succeed. This experience pushed me WAY out of my comfort zones in both areas. I never really had control, because it was someone else’s idea and I had no idea if this would flop or be successful. It was a true collaborative experience and one that involved risk-taking. Why did I have to stretch myself to do something that I often preach to others about doing? Apparently, I’m not the collaborative risk taker that I thought I was.

Collaboration can be challenging, scary, and a lot of work. If you’re lucky like I was, you will have a partner that’s patient, fun, and makes the work worthwhile. The best part about collaboration is that if done correctly, it will result in growth for all all involved. I’ve gained perspective from ideas that weren’t my own and enjoyed the synergy that came from two passionate educators working together. As an educator, when was the last time you truly collaborated with someone? What was the last risk you took in the classroom or school? Good things happen when we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones. Great things happen when we leave our comfort zones with someone else in collaboration!



“When you need to innovate, you need collaboration.” – Marissa Mayer

“You only do good work when you’re taking risks and pushing yourself.” – Sally Hawkins

“Limits, like fear, is often an illusion.” – Micheal Jordan



  • Monday, October 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly (PTA Awards from Fun Run) 9:05 AM, IEP for SS (Tanner and Achievement Team) 9:30 AM, Noon Monitor Meeting (non-teaching staff) 11:00-12:00, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:30-4:30 PM
  • Tuesday, October 10: DATA DIVES in Conference Room (K-2 in AM, 4th&3rd in PM)
  • Thursday, October 12: Building CLT (working on IRIPs) 7:50-8:50 AM, Fire Drill 3:30 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, October 13: 5D Growth Plans due in Pivot


  • Monday, October 16: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, October 17: 504 Meeting for LN (Adams/Blazek), Parent Meeting for KHG (Williams & Achievement Team) 1:50 PM
  • Wednesday, October 18: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Thursday, October 19: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Conferences 1:00-4:00 & 5:00-8:00 PM
  • Friday, October 20: Lunch with the Principal for top fundraisers in each class. PTA will be providing pizza.

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