Thursday, March 8, 2012

Playing on a Team

On Wednesday, one of the SOL bloggers wrote about her team.  Teams are so important to the well-being and function of many humans and organizations. I thrive on teams. I played on my first team in 5th grade, the only girl on a boys soccer team.  Throughout my young adult life, I played on sports teams.  I have even devised a walking team now. I hate exercising alone, but love working with my team. The same could be said for my work life. 

What I have discovered about one of the real major dysfuntions of a team is not ensuring that the team has the opportunity to work together.  We discovered that this year with our reading team. We normally kicked off the year with a pre-preplanning time, two days devoted to mapping out the year and learning.  I am lucky enough to meet with this team on Saturdays for paid professional learning.  Although they meet twice a month for one hour a week after school, there is nothing like coming together with the team fresh in the morning without the distractions of the day and the clock ticking upon you. When our teams do not get the opportunity to routinely practice, we don't function as well Quality time with a team is important.

One danger of working with a team is that you don't allow other members to join the team, even if they are physically there.  It can be extremely difficult to be an outsider who joins a team. I am often reminded of this when a new student enters my class during the middle of the year.  Now matter how hard we work to embrace the new student as a class, this person is missing all the shared experience of the team.  It is the same for new teachers as they join your professional learning community.  As a leader, I am always reminded to work to pull others into the team.  New members can bring great ideas or insight because they don't have a history with the team.  I think when a team fails to work hard to bring new members they start functioning as a clique.

Another danger of working in teams is always designating team members to play the same position on a team so that others don't develop new skills.  A healthy team should be able to do the work once the leader is gone because members played several roles. I am often reminded of how initiatives work at schools when the leader leaves, so do the initiatives.  Part of leading teams is growing members' skills.  This year we added an additional teacher to our lesson study leadership team to be an apprentice.  We have provided a safe space for her to develop leadership skills.   

There is also the danger of  having the same players on all the teams.  There is an adage in education, "Those who do, are always asked to do more" or "If you want something done, ask the busiest person."  This year I  have been concentrating on focusing on my sphere of influence and stepping back to let other people do the work.  On one occasion this backfired.  The person did not do the work and the event did not occur.  We survived. We devised a solution. We moved on.

My boss has been using this Dyer quote all year, "If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at changes."  Cultivating new teams with different people this year has helped me resee people.  In a school of 3200, the size of a small campus, there are many spaces for people work, learn, and grow.  As I have worked with SLC leadership team over the past year, I have been able to develop new relationships and find new strengths in people.  I was reminded of that when one of them stopped in unexpectedly to check on me today. 

A team can be defined as a group organized to win a contest or as a group gather to put forth a cooperative effort.  We aren't winning any prizes or trophies in our field, but we certainly are collaborating to make the ordinary extraordinary in our classrooms and on our campus.  What a privilege to be a member of  the team.


  1. Love reading your work. I learn so much from you everyday. I am so glad to be on a team with you!

  2. Love being on a team with you and thanks for reading my blog and leaving feedback! You bring an important dynamic to every team you belong to with your can-do attitude and desire to do the right thing for kids.

  3. Go Girl! Fantastic post. It is hard to join a team--speaking from experience. I'll never forget how you paved the way for me when I came to CCHS and how everyone I met said "Oh, Beth told me about you..." Thank you for always doubling back and honing in on what's important.


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