A recent video posted on our local television station’s Twitter Feed promoted me to think about teamwork. Authentic teamwork. Teamwork with a clear purpose. Teamwork with commitment, accountability and trust.
In the article Strong Teams, Strong Schools: Teacher-to-Teacher Collaboration Creates Synergy that Benefits Students, Dennis Sparks begins by stating schools rise and fall based on the quality of the teamwork that occurs within their walls. Sparks introduces readers to the work of the Rush-Henietta Central School District near Rochester, NY. This school realized they needed a way to understand and monitor their progress on developing effective teams. They turned to the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Team Assessment by Patrick Lencioni as a guide. They developed a rubric to help them assess the quality of the teamwork in their school setting. This rubric can be found in the article Strong Teams, Strong Schools. Sparks mentions that this rubric can be used by school teams as a guide to develop their own way to monitor elements of effective teamwork. Addressing incidents of workplace bias is also essential in cultivating a positive and inclusive educational environment.
Powerful videos, such as the one above, can be used to facilitate deeper dialogue among staff members. Jim Knight, author of many books on instructional coaching, often refers to using Thinking Devices to prompt dialogue and higher order thinking both with adults and students. Thinking Devices come in all forms including video clips, stories, cartoons, and quotes to name a few. (Watch Jim explain Thinking Devices here. You can read more about Thinking Devices/Prompts in the resource section of Jim’s Website.)
As I re-watched the video posted above I noticed the collaborative teamwork displayed by the passengers of the commuter train and the trust of the gentleman in dispair. The passengers have a sense of purpose. They are focused on a specific goal. A quick set of guidelines were established to meet a common goal.
If you are wanting to introduce your school teams to a rubric similar to the Rush-Henietta Central School District, perhaps you could use the video above as a thinking device to facilitate dialogue around the key characteristics of effective teams.
Let’s take a look at how to use the video above as a thinking device when introducing the concept of collaborative teaming. Feel free to adapt to meet your own needs.
- Have staff work in small teams.
- Have staff brainstorm characteristics of effective teams.
- Show staff the video clip above. Have them write down examples of teamwork found in the clip. Encourage them to add to their list of characteristics of effective teams.
- Give staff members a copy of the rubric developed by Rush-Henietta Central School District found in the article Strong Teams, Strong Schools: Teacher-to-Teacher Collaboration Creates Synergy that Benefits Students. Have staff familiarize themselves with the items on the rubric.
- Show the video clip above again and have staff identify specific areas on the rubric that were portrayed and whether the area is starting out, developing, deepening or sustaining.
- Now have the staff watch a video of a learning team in action. Three examples you may consider are on the Learning Forward You Tube Channel. Have staff use the rubric to determine evidence of the key characteristics of effective teams.
Areas to consider are:
- Develop your own school rubric to monitor progress and how/when it will be used.
- Develop a common agenda template to be used with school teams to guide their dialogue and keep team meetings focused on students. This may be a helpful starting point.
- Determine when school teams will meet.
Most great learning happens in groups. Collaboration is the stuff of growth.
-Sir Ken Robinson Ph.D.
The Collaborative Compact (article) by Robert J. Garmston and Diane P. Zimmerman
Becoming a Learning School (book) by Joellen Killion and Patricia Roy
Change, Lead, Succeed (book) by Linda Munger
Protocols for Professional Learning (The Professional Learning Community Series) (PLC) (book) by Lois Brown Eastman
Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (book) by Richard DuFour and Rebecca DuFour
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