Delran Township Public Schools has been engaged in collaborative work between its labor groups and management since 2014 and recently spoke at the New Jersey Public Schools Collaborative East Coast Institute.
Delran has partnered with the Collaborative School Leadership Initiative and Dr. Saul Rubenstein at Rutgers University to drive all of its curriculum, instruction, professional development and student achievement initiatives to create synergy between all teachers, school leaders and district administration.
The work of collaboration has been the direct result of the challenges that faced the automobile industry in the 1900’s that resulted in a lack of focus on those job titles on the automobile assembly floor. The industry was challenged to reintegrate how automobiles were produced by valuing and implementing employee input.
Research conducted in over 450 collaboratively driven schools nationwide has shown results in student achievement in schools that incorporate employee input from the classroom level. Specifically, students have realized a 12 percent increase in language arts achievement and four percent in math in schools that institute collaborative structures to examine student achievement.
In Delran Township, all four of its schools have effective School Leadership Teams that are engaged in collaborative work where they conduct an examination of their practices in seven areas: School Leadership, Climate and Culture, Instruction, Curriculum, Staffing, Use of Data, Use of Instructional Time and Parent/Community Engagement. The results of this review help drive an examination of progress in four areas: literacy, math, use of instructional data as well as climate and culture.
As a result of this collaborative work, all student subgroups, exceeded and met the achievement targets in literacy and math.
Kathy McHugh is a kindergarten teacher and Recording Secretary in the Delran Education Association and spearheads this collaborative work with the district administration. McHugh shares that “Delran’s journey in establishing a highly collaborative culture has been a positive outgrowth of the existing, strong relationship between the Delran Education Association, District Administration and Educational Leadership and our board of education. It has allowed the passion and expertise at every level of the district to develop structures which ensure that every lens is considered in the important decisions that impact teaching and learning. This work has allowed our efforts and interactions to be consistently solution-oriented in the best possible way and fortifies a culture where all stakeholders in the district are highly committed to each other’s success as we endeavor to provide the best possible learning experiences and learning outcomes for the students in Delran. It is exciting to see Delran leading the way with Labor Management Collaboration here in New Jersey.”
Daniel Finkle, Principal of Delran High School and the President of the Delran Principals and Supervisors Association, has utilized collaborative structures to drive student achievement and explains that “working collaboratively centers Delran High School administration and teachers on our commonalities as opposed to our differences. To be able to get into a room with a cross-section of building personnel and strip ourselves of our titles and concentrate on our kids and their learning is an approach that every educator would cherish. Every voice is heard and matters to reach our common goal of student success.”
Collaborative Leadership is woven into the fabric of the entire school district and thanks to the New Jersey Public Schools Collaborative, more broadly in the state of New Jersey with 18 districts, 67 schools, 250 administrators, 4400 teachers and 40,000 students benefiting.