Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Effective Teams Transforming Schools

It is true to say that when an individual feels they belong and their contributions are valued, they develop a loyalty toward their team, organisation or even school.
Loyalty stems from the connectedness of staff, the support provided between colleagues and the value colleagues feel in being a member of an effective, proactive team.  The feelings of appreciation and value motivate individuals to persist, persevere and unite to achieve common goals and to work through challenging circumstances.

Elena Aguilar (n.d), on the Edutopia Blog, writes that strong teams are essential within a school.  They  are essential to retaining and sustaining teachers and further strengthening the relationships colleagues form between one another.  Familiarity with teaching styles, ideas and work ethics is a firm foundation upon which to build.

She also includes 5 elements of "What Makes A Good Team".

  1. A good team knows why it exists.  The team members are all there for the same reason.  They are united by a common goal.
  2. A good team creates a space for learning.  The team provides its members with opportunities to learn from each other, to take risks in a supportive environment and to ask as many questions as possible.
  3. A good team creates healthy conflict.  Everybody is different and entitled to their own opinion and if this opinion creates constructive dialogue, the thinking of team members is pushed.
  4. Members of a good team trust each other.  There is equitable participation among members and shared decision making, conflicts are managed, people listen, a team member becomes a facilitator within the group and monitors disagreements and ensures the the team doesn't deteriorate.
  5. A good team has a facilitator, leader or shared leaders.   A facilitator ensures the kind of intentionality, planning and facilitation in the moment that's essential for a team to be high functioning.
I was searching for an inspirational anecdote about a school in a low socio-economic area that managed low levels of literacy, low-level English speakers, students from non-English speaking backgrounds, behaviour challenges and a community of parents who felt disconnected.  I didn't need the Internet because 20km down the road, this school exists.....or I should say, existed.
I had the privilege of working there as a literacy support teacher.  The staff at this school had united, faced the challenges that students brought to the school community and worked together to provide not only effective learning experiences, but quality learning experiences that engendered confidence, pride, appreciation and success.  I should also mention that if you hadn't worked there for at least 10 years, you were 'new'!
The school Principal lead the team with a set of living and learning standards that she encouraged the students and parents to strive towards.  Every staff member felt valued and appreciated. Every staff member was open to the learning experiences of each day.  The feelings of pride, confidence and success spread beyond the staffroom and into the playground.  It wasn't always plain sailing.  the transformation over a period of years has been remarkable and a testimony to persistence, perseverance and unity toward a common goal.

Aguilar, E. (n.d.). Effective Teams: The Key to Transforming Schools? | Edutopia. K-12 Education & Learning Innovations with Proven Strategies that Work | Edutopia. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from

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