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Teachers, Administrators, Union Collaborate to Benefit Student Growth

Collaboration among teachers, administrators and the teachers’ union is the center of an initiative in Evanston/Skokie District 65 designed ultimately to increase student performance. The unique partnership between educators, union and school and district leaders was developed to create shared goals for both the classroom, teacher appraisal system and professional development. The process is led by national educational consultant and Evanston resident Ann Cummins Bogan.

She addressed the Board of Education at its meeting on Monday, Aug. 29. “There’s a lot of brilliance, a lot of commitment and a lot of motivation,” she said of the work with D65 educators.

She spoke about how morale, motivation and thus better outcomes for students can result from collaboratively working in a safe, trusting atmosphere, when there’s an elevated role of union leadership and where there’s accountability and shared goals alike at all levels.  

She has been working with the district since 2017 to build structures and capacity for this work and over time has seen more openness and more involvement and more support behind the initiative. Work has centered on three areas:

  • Training on collaborative leadership
  • Facilitating committees that are working to refine the educator appraisal system
  • Developing a needs assessment at school sites

“There is a lot of willingness to collaborate…at cabinet, every school, DEC exec (District Educators’ Council Executive Board), Educator Appraisal Team; how everyone listens to one another, how everyone advocates for one another; that’s a game changer,” she said. “The discussion is always what’s best for children, what’s best for educators.”

She noted that the work isn’t easy nor quick. “This isn’t a 12-step program, the path is not linear, it’s undulating, and it takes patience.”

Work this year will focus on a communication plan to inform staff, families and other stakeholders about the plan, establishing meeting structures with DEC leadership and cabinet to foster collaboration and problem solving, developing a district level team to shepherd the work, developing strategies to support principals and union leadership at the school sites and supporting the refinement of the teacher appraisal process to ensure a growth-focused system to evaluate teachers.

Board members praised the process and the work on behalf of students.