Building Better Teacher Teams
Posted by on January 08, 2012
Building better teams
While most teacher teams are able to accomplish low-level tasks, they often fail to accomplish the higher-level goal of improving teaching and learning, write Vivian Troen and Katherine Boles in The Harvard Education Letter. Teacher teams may have energy and enthusiasm, but team members typically lack the skills, tools, and support structures that allow them to orchestrate significant pedagogical and curricular changes through collaborative work. Teams are rarely trained in team facilitation, skills such as time management, goal setting, development of team norms, and conflict resolution. Since teachers tend to care that everyone gets along, teams avoid conflicts and dismiss or ignore alternative ways of doing things. To facilitate better teaming, the authors have developed a rubric for evaluating team effectiveness based on five conditions. The first thing to assess is whether a team’s task is well defined, focused on improving student learning. The second is whether the team encourages leadership for all members. The third is whether the team generates an environment where trust, communication, and synergy are apparent. The fourth is whether there is an expectation of performance improvement for both the team and the individual, an articulated expectation of personal accountability. The final thing to assess is whether the team articulates its structure and its processes to accomplish its goals.
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