August 29, 2017, marked my 21st opening of school as a public school educator. It is one of my favorite days of the year. There is the excitement of watching students reconnect with their friends and staff members and the newness of establishing routines, expectations, and building relationships that will serve as the foundation for a successful year.

Shared LeadershipHowever, the work that leads to success is a result of extensive collaboration and a significant amount of planning throughout the previous school year and during the summer. At BFA Fairfax, we have begun implementing shared leadership teams to orchestrate the work of our school.

What is shared leadership?

“Shared leadership involves maximizing all of the human resources in an organization by empowering individuals and giving them an opportunity to take leadership positions in their areas of expertise. With more complex markets increasing the demands on leadership, the job in many cases is simply too large for one individual.” (Marshall Goldsmith, Harvard Business Review)

Never has this been more evident at BFA Fairfax and throughout Franklin West Supervisory Union. The days of a principal being the sole decision-maker and instructional leader have passed. The complexity of public education and the coordination of systems requires the input and facilitation of all members of the learning community. Shared leadership teams at BFA Fairfax have been instrumental in fueling our transformation and building our capacity for supporting our work around professional learning, Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements/Flexible Learning Opportunities, budget development, curriculum development and oversight, data and assessment, positive behavioral interventions and supports, multi-tiered systems of supports, and supervision and evaluation practices.

BFA Fairfax Sign

Through our ongoing efforts to build leadership capacity we are experiencing increased decision-making that reflects all voices,  increased instructional coherence, increased coordination of resources to support learning for all, more focused collaboration using data to support instruction, and more sustained buy-in to school and district initiatives.

Any success achieved at BFA Fairfax is the result of dedicated teams of people working together to continuously improve our school. I feel so fortunate to work in a community and a learning organization that holds the belief that everyone is capable of leadership and is responsible to be a leader. I am so optimistic that our positive beginning to year will continue as a direct result of shared leadership.



Thomas Walsh is the Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary Middle School and is a regular contributor to the FWSU Blog. You can follow him on Twitter @educatamount

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