I am pleased to see a renewed emphasis on connectedness, collaboration, and shared responsibility. Our school in Miami-Dade was fortunate to be part of a pilot called School-Based Management/Shared Decision-Making (SBM/SDM). As a principal new to the school, the teachers were eager for change and to be able to have a voice in the vision of the school. A new principal, coupled with SBM/SDM, brought much excitement.
How did the program work and how can it be implemented at any school? Simply put, all teachers had an opportunity to participate in some area of school operations. The Budget committee was one of the most popular. Teachers had the chance to sit down with the principal and review the school’s budget. How much money was there in our discretionary budget? How can we distribute monies equally to the different departments or grade levels? What might we do with remaining substitute monies? How could we encourage teachers to be absent less so that we would have a greater excess of dollars to use creatively?
Most teachers are interested in curriculum and the materials and textbooks that are part of the teaching process. Our Curriculum Committee was comprised of department heads and teacher leaders who met regularly with an assistant principal to provide input and offer expertise from the classroom. In addition this committee worked on the testing schedule as well as relevant course offering to be included in the upcoming year’s master schedule.
The Personnel Committee allowed its members to be a part of the interview and selection process for vacancies in the teaching area as well as in the administration ranks. Who would know better about the right person for these crucial areas than those who would be interacting with them on a daily basis?
Other committees included a Social Committee, Parental Involvement Committee, and a Discipline Committee. The great thing about SBM/SDM is that each school can decide how they want to be involved and how they may want to be grouped. What are the unique needs of our school and what is our vision?
We often hear about the need for greater parental involvement. With SBM/SDM, parents are well connected. Our school chose to ask a parent to be a part of each committee. All parents were invited to attend our monthly morning meetings where we heard reports from our various committees.
Having a school where everyone can be connected in a way to their liking goes so far in creating a positive climate and building a supportive culture. Trust and transparency are significant ripple effects or by-products of a sharing and collaborative environment. The old top-down model of school management has to give way to a bottom-up approach of inclusion and acceptance.