inSchool Solutions

 School Improvement:  Working Together
Working Together Easier First Implementation Action Plan Imperatives About RPS


Site Index

Other topics

Working Together



More on this topic


Schools are about people. When people work well together the costs are reduced and productivity increased. When people do not work well together the opposite outcomes result.

Working together 5 steps diagram 

1. Know what you are trying to achieve by working together. The most common stumbling block in working together is lack of clarity regarding what is to be achieved. What are the desired outcomes and hence the required processes and outputs

Someone once said that the goals of education are ambiguous, the technology uncertain and participation is fluid. This same person then drew the conclusion that education is 'organised anarchy'. 

Working together means working with people. It is necessary to take into consideration what each person is trying to achieve in order to be able to work together. Not easy - but our best teachers are master practitioners of this craft. The alternative is to work on people - a sad imitation of education.  

Being clear about our own aims and purposes is the starting point for working with others to achieve the agreements on the basis of which we can work together.  The power imbalances and conflicting between systems, schools, staff, students and their families often tempt us to skip this step. Consider the agreements that Riverside Primary School has in place across its whole school community. Can you how these agreements support everyone working together.


2. Know what is happening 
The reason that quality management has put such an emphasis on data is that good, bad or indifferent, reality is always the safest basis on which the choose one's actions. Ignorance is a great source of disruption, waste, rework and anxiety. Ultimately lack of knowledge of what is happening will rob students of teaching time. 
Knowledge about what is happening is technically known as 'in-process' data and it helps those involved manage the processes with which they are involved, ie, Information also makes people much more responsible than policy. This knowledge includes
   who is doing
   what with what 

   how and what the 
   outcomes are at any point in 
It is for this reason that quality management invests in knowledge of systems, processes
3. Work with others to improve what is happening.  
No one has the whole story.  No one has such insight & 'control' that they can single handedly design and improve the school . The day to day tasks, and the variables, involved in the life and work of a school  are too complex and many critical factors are unknown. 


4. Do your own work well.  If the school system is well designed people will know how to make their  contributions easily and well. 
        Purposes, processes, responsibility discretion will all be clear.  
Responsibility for tasks will not necessarily be isolated which is contrary to a common piece of management 'wisdom'. With the right knowledge, skills, systems and culture responsibility can be well shared. People (especially those in teams) who are confident and competent and committed can be trusted to share a (team) responsibility (see leadership). While roles will be well understood people will have good working relationships that will provide the flexibility that means that the best person to do a task is the person who does it. This will depend on knowledge, skills, relationships, availability ... 


5. Make it easier for the next person (and yourself too - in a complex task most of the time you are the next person).  Making it easier for everyone (especially the next person) is the critical improvement to aim for because it 
       - releases resources
       - increases 'throughput'
       - reduces the 'unfinished' work in the system
       - puts an increased value on the people and their tasks
       - makes one a contributor (which is the critical test for belonging)
All of which reduces cost & stress and increases the opportunities for people to do well and have fun.

Make it better 
People want to do a good job unless they are discouraged, eg,
    they feel undervalued by those they serve
    they feel the work is not important
    they are confused about what is to be achieved and how
    they feel incompetent (a core danger of quotas, targets, ...)
    and so on ...

Well designed systems
    consider both people & tasks
    have clear purposes & processes and adequate resources...
and so they naturally improve as people work together to complete their tasks easily & well.

How people work together is a matter of capability and behaviour. And both are influenced by 
    systems, and 
    culture (of the family, community school...)


To create a situation in which people work well together it is necessary people to have insights into their own situation and behaviour. 


Teachers & leaders can apply 'mediated learning' to achieve these insights and ensure that the school  and its people have the knowledge, skills, systems & culture to make it easier for people to work well together.


--> Easier First