Using the Expertise of Your School Team

Erik YoungmanBlog, Connect Better, Lead Better


  • Maximize the impact of school decisions.
  • Have clear communication, an open mind, and a shared vision.
  • Collaborate with others to solve problems, and involve staff, stakeholders, and students.
  • Reach beyond your school for additional ideas and support.

Erik joined Dave Schmittou on the Daily Drop In to talk about using the expertise of your school team.

Click here to watch!

Educators make frequent decisions that impact student learning. Enhancing the participation of school staff can create shared ownership that also enhances the depth of understanding, connections among key topics, and clarity of shared goals. Educators can maximize the expertise of school teams by leveraging communication, shared vision, involvement, collaborative leadership, and problem solving.


Open communication is important throughout the entire process. Initial communication explains the purpose of the committee or meeting. Communication during the process should include a mixture of deliberate written and verbal communication as well as active listening. Questions and comments should empower participation, respectfully welcome varying perspectives, and connect key ideas. In addition, it should concisely and accurately summarize goals, outcomes, and success criteria. Communication at the end of meetings should clearly specify why the plan is needed, how implementation will occur, timelines for key topics, and how feedback can be shared.

A trusting culture should be created that empowers participants to feel comfortable sharing opinions, perspectives, research, and connections so participants can learn from each other as a community. Click To Tweet

Shared Vision

Participation in the development of initiatives and areas of focus helps create a shared vision and ownership. A properly designed process creates stronger ideas together while also building trust. Shared vision and beliefs provide a guiding foundation and compass for collaborative problem solving by school staff. A collaboratively created strategic plan that includes a guiding vision based on shared beliefs defines the priorities and direction that future decisions can align with. Identified student skills or proficiencies can enhance the strategic plan. It achieves this by providing additional clarity about valued attributes for learners, teachers, and leaders. The shared vision and beliefs should guide the prioritization of initiatives and areas of focus. It should be revisited to enhance alignment.


Maximizing the expertise of your school team includes the involvement of staff (administrators, teachers, and other educators), stakeholders, and students. Involve participants that are impacted by the topic. Identify and invite participants that represent different groups or perspectives. Seek and amplify voices by appreciating, empowering, and creating staff, student, and stakeholder leaders.

Collaborative Leadership and Problem Solving

A trusting culture should be created that empowers participants to feel comfortable sharing opinions, perspectives, research, and connections so participants can learn from each other as a community. Conversations and disagreements should focus on ideas rather than people to enhance the clarity of outcomes. Relationships and communication amplify trust, success, and shared ownership.

Collaborative problem solving takes into account the interests of everyone involved. Thus, understanding different perspectives is critical. One keyword or phrase can be enhanced to capture concise vision and direction. Identify keywords or phrases by:

1. Clearly making connections between the purpose of the initiative or focus with the shared beliefs and values.
2. Patiently exploring, identifying, and defining topics, interests, goals, and evaluation criteria.
3. Asking targeted questions.
4. Enhancing clarity and depth of questions after discussing the topic and listening to feedback.
5. Sharing, seeking to understand, and valuing different perspectives.
6. Reviewing qualitative and quantitative data.
7. Generating and evaluating options.
8. Exploring strengths and drawbacks.
9. Finding common ground by eliminating, combining, revising, and refining ideas.
10. Enhancing shared ownership by agreeing on a solution(s) and implementation plan(s).
11. Communicating simplified goals.
12. Listening while sharing initial plans to enhance transparency and clarity of communication with staff and stakeholders.
13. Monitoring progress, celebrating positives, and reflecting on challenges, improvements, or changes.
14. Continuing to gather feedback about positives and challenges via brief surveys and conversations.

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Amplify perspective and impact by collaborating, sharing, and learning outside of your school district. At various times in the planning process, connect with educators in different schools, cities, states, and even countries. Discuss and/or research successful processes, focuses, resources, or supports that worked for other educators and schools. Learn from potential mistakes and risks to enhance progress for your students and staff. For example, Teach Better facilitates a variety of collaborative learning opportunities that are synchronous or asynchronous. Impactful options include live and interactive Daily Drop In interviews and content, weekly Mastermind virtual meetings, and a variety of podcasts focused on key education topics.

What am I missing here? What component or process enhances collaborative problem solving with your school teams? I would love to hear feedback and questions via Twitter (@Erik_Youngman) so we can share ideas that ultimately help students.

About Erik Youngman

Erik Youngman is an education leader who is passionate about topics such as homework, grading, leadership, and growth mindset. He recently completed his nineteenth year in educational leadership. Erik is the Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for Libertyville District 70 in Libertyville, Illinois. Previous education experiences include being a principal in Libertyville as well as an assistant principal and teacher in Gurnee, Illinois.

Erik earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Education Specialist Degree, and Master of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Arts from Augustana College. Please follow and contact Erik via Twitter: @Erik_Youngman.