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Developing a Team Philosophy
Developing a Team Philosophy
I have been a part of two districts that both offered a teaming period for its teachers. Both districts wanted teaming to be a integral part of their teachers’ planning and curriculum development, but only one district succeeded in making teaming a productive part of the education engine. How did one succeed and the other flounder? The solution is simple: planning and implementing a cohesive teaming philosophy.
Districts can’t offer a teaming time to its teachers without providing structured and clear teaming expectations. Teaming will turn into an extra conference time if teachers are not held accountable for this gift that is called teaming! As a team, teachers should create a mantra or statement for their team at the beginning of the year. For example, “Doing what is right and what is beneficial for our students” or “It’s all about the kids”. Preparing your team’s mindset and agreeing to have a positive attitude about teaming at the beginning of the year will put your team of teachers on the same page.
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Organizing Your Team
Productive teams are organized teams. Just like in competitive sports teams, every member must have a job to do and a position to play. Assigning members responsibilities to uphold keeps everyone accountable for team meetings, and also makes each teacher more likely to attend. For example, you can assign teachers the following jobs:
1. Secretary - this team member will record the minutes of the meeting
2. Communications Chairman - this member is responsible for organizing a month calendar of events, which will include student birthdays, and other school-wide events that are taking place that month.
3. Student Advocate - this teacher will report and keep track of students with excessive absences, discipline infractions, and alert team members to student problems or of positive happenings in the students' lives.
4. Paperwork Person - this teacher will maintain the accuracy of student files ( a bank of file folders should be created for the team's list of students) and will add any parent contacts made each week, or other notes and paperwork on the student to their file.
5. Team Leader - this member will come up with an agenda for each meeting and will lead the teachers through the agenda.
Taking the time to organize your team and to assign jobs might take a lot of time and coordination in the beginning, but doing so will pay off dividends in the long run!
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Positive Team Activities
Teaming should not be a vent session for teachers. Yes, it does help to vent about particular students that the team of teachers are having shared problems with, but using the entire period to focus on negativity doesn't do anyone any good. Set aside a brief amount of time to discuss student concerns, but have the team leader shut down the venting and move the meeting along. One way to help curb the negative atmosphere that can develop on teaming is to allot "positive time" for your team. Positive activities for your team to implement can include:
1. Positive Parent Postcards - Print postcards with your school's mascot, and select five students each week to "brag" on to their parents. Each team member write a positive statement about that student and mail it to the parent. Most of the time, parents only hear about the bad things their students do at school. Sending out positive parent postcards will build a bridge to that parent that might otherwise have only negative impressions of their child's school. Be sure to mark students off of your master list as you send out cards, and make it your team's goal to send postcards out to each and every student before the end of the year.
2. Brag Sessions - Pull students into your team meeting and allow each teacher time to tell that student why they enjoy having them in class. Brag sessions can also be done through written form if you think bringing a child in would embarrass them or make them feel self-conscience.
These are just a few tips to make teaming time more positive, but the message being sent here, is that teaming needs to have balance for it to be effective and enjoyable for all teachers. Negative team members can spread their attitude to normally positive team members, and before you know it, teaming is nothing more than a typical teacher's lounge full of gripers and whiners!