Shared ownership

Published: 04 Sep 2017
Professional development
Evaluation indicators
Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua


“We can work on this together, we can fix this together…leadership comes from the middle.”

Senior leaders at Invercargill Middle School have put processes in place to ensure that all teachers participate in and contribute to the co-construction of decisions about how best to move forward. The principal describes the approach as ‘change coming from the classroom, not the principals office’.

Key messages:

  • Respectful working relationships are the basis of a safe and supportive environment that supports collaboration 
  • The collective approach to designing a way forward assists in ensuring solutions that respond to their unique context 
  • Leaders and teachers invest in, and share accountability for improving practice

Things to think about:

  • How distributed and collaborative is leadership in your school?

The evaluation indicators this video illustrates

  • Domain 2: Leadership for equity and excellence 
    • Evaluation indicators
      • Leadership collaboratively develops and pursues the school’s vision, goals and targets for equity and excellence
      • Leadership builds relational trust and effective collaboration at every level of the school community 
  • Domain 5: Professional capability and collective capacity
    • Evaluation indicator  
      • Organisational structures, processes and practices enable and sustain collaborative learning and decision making.

This video is part of a series

This video is part of the series Improvement in Action Te Ahu Whakamua. We created this series to inspire schools with examples of success in action. These examples highlight the benefits of fulfilling the evaluation indicators we use to review schools.

The full video series can be found here.

Remote video URL

We all have something to contribute, I think, is the thing. We are a community. We are a team. We don't just have one leader who tells us you are going to do this. Everything we have done over the last five years, we have built together. We have grown.


When it comes to changes and things that need to happen, it needs to come from the classroom. It can't come from up above. I've been very aware to make sure that we develop our systems in a way that it's coming from the classroom. That it's coming from the noise that's happening in the classrooms, not because of what's happening in the principal's office.


Their curriculum plan would be a really good example. Katie and Stan will come with a concept they want, but we all co-construct. We make the documents together so that we all know we've got a part. We're invested.


Can you help me with this bit?


I know you can do this really well, let's go.


We've looked at what is it that makes the programme important? What is it that within reading is important? What sort of things should we bring to a reading session? And everybody contributed to that. So it wasn't a cut and paste style curriculum plan. It was something that we co-constructed. We put it together ourselves. So when we come back to it, it is their voice that's within the curriculum.


If I bring something to the staff meeting, it's valued as much as anybody's opinion. Our team will not judge us if we bring a problem to that meeting. We can say, hey: I've tried this and it didn't work. And we know that we're going to be able to bring that into a safe place and have people support us and say: well, how about this? Or: why don't you try this?


The school that Stan inherited, even if people were motivated and wanted the best for these students, there wasn't the same urgency. It wasn't the same collective accountability. If you're not used to a collective accountability, you're going to shrink back and feel like, oh, it's all my fault. But we can work on this together, we can fix this together.


Stan and Katie are leading us in a direction but they don't necessarily know what exactly that will look like until we have grown it and built it.



Mine is my mentor sentences that we use in class. At the start of writing time, we change it up as we go. And then it's about modelling for them how to write more compound and complex sentences in their writing.


We're not saying this school's idea is awesome, let's be them. We're not going to be them because we are not them, we are us. And we are able to make those ideas middle school.


I feel safe as a teacher here. It's transparent, there's no surprises. I can do what I need to do as a teacher, but still have the support if I need it. If you're not coming from a place of safety, you're stressed and you're not able to learn. So that's where respectful working relationships in the classroom between the students, between the teacher and the students, between all the staff is of the highest priority.