Schools with a history of student success are built around teams of high-quality educators who work in collaborative settings, sharing best practices, offering one another feedback on the best ways to reach each and every child within a building.
We have witnessed these successful dynamics in some schools in Clark and Washoe County School Districts, and we’ve seen it in other school districts across the United States.
“Collaboration is so incredibly important if we are going to continue to raise the level of achievement of our students,” said State Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, a retired school principal and teacher in the Clark County School District.
“Everyone in the building — parents, teachers, administrators and support staff — has an impact on every child who is in the building. When we work together positive things can happen for those children in the building. We have known this forever.”
Nevada Succeeds embraces policies that support collaborative school culture. Each and every successful school building has a principal who encourages staff members to open their classroom doors and talk with one another, to meet regularly in grade-level settings, discussing what works and what doesn’t in effectively reaching some of the most challenging youngsters.
“A lot of it is getting people to speak with each other to show that it does have a difference… especially when teachers and parents see them working together, things are happening in the classroom,” Woodhouse says.
The old model that found teachers working behind closed doors with little contact with colleagues has been rejected within these schools for this transparent, collaborative approach, and parents play a vital role within this structure.
“We’re trying to overcome the impediments of the past,” said State Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, a charter school principal and former Spanish and government teacher in the Clark County School District. “It was so common for a teacher to be given a textbook and and a classroom and be told there’s your classroom.
“That’s changed and changing today. It’s no longer a teacher with 30 to 40 students and that’s it. We’re breaking those walls.”
Educators who collaborate with one another also recognize the valued partnership that comes with fully engaged parents, who are regularly updated on their children’s strengths and weaknesses, and are provided the tools to work as partners with classroom teachers.
The reorganization of the Clark County School District is designed to embrace such parental involvement, to eliminate walls between families and educators, to provide answers for parental questions, and share tools for effectively reaching every child.
A significant number of Clark County School District educators had embraced this collaborative, open dynamic well-before the reorganization took effect.
But there were others that had not, and we are hopeful that the restructured school district will offer a welcoming model of inclusiveness that will encourage parents and educators to collaborate, benefitting each and every one of our students.