The Institute for Excellence in Education (IEE) functions as a professional learning community (PLC). This means that at the heart and soul of our organization there is an uncompromising commitment to collaboration. Collaboration is part of IEE’s DNA and we are convinced that without it, we cannot be successful in supporting schools as educators engage in powerful school improvement that makes a significant difference in the lives of kids.
So what does collaboration look like at the Institute? It can be observed in every meeting that takes place between and among our coaches. IEE believes that when two or more are gathered . . . there is collaboration! Whether in a hotel suite seated around a coffee table or in a conference room with all coaches present, a bird’s-eye view reveals collaboration. One would note the use of agendas with outcomes; some type of inclusion activity to ensure everyone’s voice is in the room; and explicit processes to support both dialogue and discussion. An observer would hear paraphrases and a balance of advocacy and inquiry. The use of charting to record the dialogue and identify next steps would also be noted.
Collaboration is also the reason that IEE is committed to placing teams of coaches in each of our schools whenever it is possible. IEE coaches have learned the value of sharing, planning, reflecting and working together. They compliment one another’s styles and the work is enhanced because no one works as a “lone ranger.”
Collaboration is also evident in each of the IEE schools across the state. (We are currently in more than thirty buildings throughout Michigan.) For example, two elementary buildings in Swan Valley Schools are collaborating around the implementation of the Focused Instructional Model (FIM) in math and seeing great gains in math scores. Grade level teacher teams work with IEE coaches to examine their standards, curriculum, assessment and intervention strategies.
Another example of powerful collaboration is found in two middle-grades buildings in Kalamazoo in which members of each building’s leadership team meet regularly to guide school improvement. The team reviews implementation data, develops plans for increasing teacher effectiveness and supports teaching and learning . . . all in a collaborative manner.
At Godfrey Lee Schools, their IEE Data Coach works with buildings and district administrators and teams of teachers as they develop, refine, and examine pertinent student data to drive teacher practice. While, Mumford High School’s team of coaches works with administrators and teachers to support the implementation of high quality teaching strategies in all classrooms.
It is the richness of the conversations around teaching and learning, fueled by deep collaboration that makes it possible for every IEE school to improve academic achievement. That’s Collaboration, IEE Style!