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We talk a lot about teams and teamwork in schools.

We have team leaders and team teaching and how the entire school staff works as a team. We recognize and proclaim that what we may not be able to do alone as individual teachers, we can do superbly when joined with colleagues functioning as a team.

Indeed, creating a team and making teamwork the dominant mode of operation are the keys to making us all more effective – and the keys to creating a better school.

The question is: What makes a good school team?

“A good school team has five characteristics that are necessary to produce teamwork.”

5 characteristics needed for teamwork
Five characteristics necessary to produce teamwork.

The characteristics of a good school team are not complex. In fact, five characteristics – coupled with people who share a common purpose and mission – can produce magnificent results. These five are absolutely necessary to make up a school team which is capable of demonstrating the highest form of teamwork.

“Unlike people”
A good team must be composed of “unlike” people. Tweet this These individuals must have a wide range of competencies, preferences, and disciplines. This is because the services offered by the school are wide in scope. And our students represent diverse interests, abilities, and backgrounds. The range of needs we must meet for students is broad and comprehensive, and the faculty of a good school must have both the desire and skills to meet these student needs.

Good school teams are not made up of faculty clones who look alike, think alike, act alike, and all have the same strengths – and the same weaknesses.

Why? Because when we get ready to do the work of the school and meet the needs of the students, we will have huge professional holes. We will have a situation where everyone can do some things and no one can do others. Everyone will want to do some things, and nobody will want to do others – so they won’t get done.


Appreciate Individual Differences
Second, and in the same vein: Good school teams can see and appreciate individual differences. Tweet this They see individual staff differences as a strength to students, themselves, and the work of the school. They see individual differences as a valuable resource they may use to improve their teaching, solve problems, and reach goals. They see differences as a key to reducing pressures in a school. When individual differences are present, none of us must be “all things to all people.” Rather, we can use the wide range of faculty talents to serve as our resource and support system.

“Good schools are made up of people who can lead and follow – and function well in both roles.” Tweet this

Professionals who can lead and follow
Third, a good school team has professional educators who can both lead and follow with equal grace and efficiency. People simply must have the will and ability to play out their roles in both vital positions for the school to function at the highest level.

The same people can’t always be leaders in every situation. The same people can’t always be followers – and the same people can’t always sit on the sidelines. The most qualified leader in any given situation must be allowed to lead – and the most capable people must be picked to make up the group.

“When a good school team exists, every faculty member assumes a leadership role based on his or her strengths.” Tweet this

Cooperate rather than compete
Fourth, people on a good school team always choose to cooperate rather than compete against each other. Even in disagreement and conflict, cooperation is the chosen mode of operation – and for good reason. The staff is well aware that competition with each other eliminates the possibility of establishing a functional team and, of course, creating teamwork.

“Parts” affect the “whole”
Fifth, a good school team understands the relationship of the parts of the school to the entire school. They know the “parts” do affect the “whole.” More important, the good team won’t sacrifice a part for the whole – or the whole for a part. Rather, the good team thinks in terms of both entities. As a result, the entire school runs well.

Staff differences in both interest and competency are keys to a good school team. It’s in our individuality that we gain strengths to have a good team and set the stage for teamwork.

“We must have the same purpose and mission and we must choose to function in cooperative ways to have a highly competent team that produces the fruit of such a choice – teamwork!”

The Master Teacher is a continuous, research-based weekly learning program moving teachers from foundational teachers to Master Teaching. Get 36 lessons delivered to you.

Thought for the Week

Finding ways to engage students, increase learning efficiency, and extending recall of what students learn can be a constant quest. Fortunately, designing activities and employing strategies that release the flow of dopamine in our students’ brains can help us to meet this challenge, especially now.

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