Elements of a Successful Network

A review of the writings of Ann Lieberman and Maureen Grolnick, Andy Hargreaves and others suggests these elements of a successful network:


  • Building trusting relationships through inquiry and work initiated or chosen by members because of their own needs and carried out together over time.
  • Establishing norms of reflective practice and shared decision making, which provide internal avenues by which to share information.
  • The support of district and building leadership, including respect for true empowerment of teachers, parents, and students rather than “contrived collegiality” in the service of administrative control.
  • A common purpose and the flexibility to adapt and revise that purpose together as the network evolves.
  • Compelling activities that support the central purpose, allow for participants to share their own experience, and extend intermittent “transformative” experiences into actual daily work.
  • Crossing role groups to use both “outside” and “inside” knowledge, balancing theory, research, and practice to solve common problems.
  • A reliable way to provide information to members.
  • Structures and roles that diffuse responsibility and leadership among the members of the organization.
  • An emphasis on informal personal connections in network activities, even at the expense of efficiency or uniformity.