Building Teaching Teams to Change Schools Aaryn Schmuhl Principal Luella Middle School Henry County
Essential Questions • Rationale • Why use teacher teams and for what purposes? • Implementation • How do you design effective teacher teams? • Success Defined • How do you make teacher teams effective? What products/outcomes can you see from each meeting? • Expectations and Training • Don’t they know how to work in groups, they do group work all the time in their classrooms? • Challenges: • What can stand in the way of success?
Characteristics of Successful Teams • Directions: • 1. Think: • Think of a successful team you have been a part of or that you admire. Using the index cards at your table, jot down answers to the following questions: • What were the characteristics of the team as a whole? Of Individuals? • What essential conditions were in place to allow the team to be successful? • 2. Pair: • Share your ideas with the person next to you at the table. • Come to consensus as a pair on two (2) essential characteristics or conditions. • 3. Share: • At your table, share with the other pairs sitting with you. Be prepared to share with the larger group
Our motto reflects our beliefs and actions. This is on nearly every public document, internal memo, official poster, school improvement plan, and is repeated every single day in the announcements.
Relational Trust “As a social resource for school improvement, relational trust facilitates the development of beliefs, values, organizational routines, and individual behaviors that instrumentally affect students engagement and learning.” Bryk and Schneider (2002, p 115.)
LMS-Our BeliefsEstablished 2005 • All learners learn best when they are engaged, motivated, and intellectually challenged. • All learners learn best when they feel safe both physically and mentally. • All learners need effective, timely, and specific feedback to meet mastery learning targets based on performance standards. • All learners need to feel ownership and membership in a community that they are both a part of and contributor to in tangible and intangible ways.
Community and Collaboration • We made it clear from the 1st day that teachers would be expected to work together to solve educational problems. • We made it clear that we would have instructional discussions in our meetings. • We made it clear that successful collaboration required work and a commitment to process and growth. • We provided training to facilitators for each team to manage meetings, conflict resolution, and setting outcomes for each session. • We established norms for each team, each year and continue to do so.
Common Expectations and Assumptions • It was essential to have shared understandings of: • Teamwork is better than Me- Work • Culture of positive supports needs to exist for teacher and students • Success for each meeting • Time demands and respect for times • Value of setting norms for each team • Willingness to address conflict • Both overt and passive conflicts.
Are you Ready for Teams? • Video on Teamwork Teams require administrators to release responsibility and to allow some flexibility. Video helps set the tone for defining teams.
Implementation Teams at LMS
Team Structures at Teacher Level • Interdisciplinary Teaching Teams in each grade level. • Ideally 4 person teams (LA, M, SC, SS) • Allocations require 2, 3, 5, and 6 man teams at times • Share common students • Discipline, Interventions, Data Collection, RTI all handled by team • Parent Conferences done together • Meet once a week • Content Area Meetings (CAM) Teams • Grade Level Content Meetings – includes special education • (6th math, 7th Language Arts, etc.) • Meet once a week for unit/lesson planning, common assessments creation and analysis, implementing blended learning in content
Team Structures at School Wide Level • Department Teams • Core Content and Connections • Vertical alignment, department initiatives and training • Common Assessment data analysis • Better Seeking Team • Leadership Team • Comprised of representatives from each grade level, each content. • Deal with instructional initiatives, professional learning, monitoring School Improvement Plan, RTI tracking and interventions, etc. • Better Communications Team • Representative per grade • Focus on web page, calling tree, communications with parents
Team Structures Across Grades/Subjects • IRB Team • Designed by BST to assess unit planning and development of blended learning. • Flexible groups that change based on request of each CAM group • Focused on reviewing data and having real conversations about instruction • Team members review plans and courses before the meeting and CAM gets feedback on their work/proposed work
Questions? Last stop before lunch…..
Success Defined How do you know teams are working?
Building Resilience and Creating Solutions Sustaining any profound change process requires a fundamental shift in thinking. We need to understand the nature of growth processes and how to catalyze them. Be we also need to understand the forces and challenges that impede progress, and to develop workable strategies for dealing with these challenges. -Peter Senge et al. (1999)
Teams Gone Bad • Using the sticky notes at your table, jot down what you see has gone bad in the following video on collaboration.
Lesson From the Video • If you put teachers in a room and tell them to collaborate without purpose, training, guidance, and support you might just get what you ask for…..
Give and Go • Use the Give and Go Sheet at your table. • List two strategies you have employed at your school to improve or sustain teams. • Meet with another person. Share one of your ideas and record one of their ideas. • Continue meeting with new colleagues until you have at least 10 new ideas. • You have 12 minutes.
Expectations • Each team will establish norms • Work times, homework, meeting times, taking turns, punctuality, facilitation models, etc. • Each team will have meaningful agendas • Collaboratively developed, flexible, devised at the end of each meeting for the next meeting • Each team will have a product at the end of each meeting • Minutes, Unit Plan, Lesson Plans, Deliverable if specific task • Each team publicly has to share their successes and struggles at either faculty, department or IRB meetings.
Training • Model expectations for successful meetings. • Watch videos, follow teams that are successful, debrief • Use Leadership Team as a training ground for effective meetings. • Ensure that facilitators are not seen as the masters of the meetings • Refresh with frequency the training and expectations • Engage in leadership discussions with individual facilitators, group members, and plant seeds. • Be ready for this to be an ongoing need.
Its not all Roses Challenges
Challenges to Consider • Trust and Positive Culture • Teachers need to believe that they will be able to move forward with what their teams determine is next steps. If they feel like they will have to do what the admin says anyway…. • Scheduling is Essential • Teachers need time to collaborate. You need to build it into the master schedule so they see it as an essential part of the work. • Facilitation training is necessary over time • Teacher leaders in each group need to be trained to facilitate meetings. It is well worth selecting and training facilitators. A fish bowl activity periodically in large group faculty to model is also helpful.
Challenges to Consider • Conflict Management/Mediation • Administrators need to be skillful in pushing teams to solve their own conflict, but knowing when to step in if it becomes destructive. This is a balance that is hard to attain. • Celebration of Successes • Give opportunity for teams to build relationships by celebrating successes within teams and in public • Beware of Friendly Groups • Getting along is not the same as getting it done. Conflict is an integral part of growing and changing.
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