Effective teamwork in schools has a domino affect. If there is good teamwork among the administrators, then there will be good teamwork between the staff, which then affects the student body positively in terms of teamwork. Teams have increased morale when everyone is a friendly and encouraging influence on others. It is also possible that students who work in teams to encourage each other are likely to experience higher success in their academics.
Effective teamwork begins at the administrative level in a school. Principals and vice principals, and sometimes counselors as well, have the initial duty of laying the groundwork for lasting teamwork first among themselves, and then for the other occupants of the school. The first step is planning a non-negotiable schedule of weekly or bi-weekly meetings for the administrative staff to sit down together and discuss an agenda that always consists of individual check-in's, reports on their department of coverage, positive and negative reports or experiences with or from teachers, and positive and negative reports or experiences with or from students. These check-ins ensure that all administrative staff is in consistent communication with each other and always working toward the same goals. The goals for the year should be set at the first meeting. A plan for teacher and student teamwork should also be planned for implementation.
Faculties are unique to every campus, and each is like an extended family. And like an extended family, it can be difficult to make everyone work together and get along. Teacher teamwork is dependent on trusting, professional relationships with each other and with their supervisors. Administrators should hold each faculty member to the same standards and expectations to make sure that none feel the victim of unfair treatment.
Teachers should be expected to participate in professional development throughout the year, and to further encourage teamwork, be divided into peer groups that will meet once or twice a month to discuss any issues with the school, the students or their supervisors. These peer groups should have a representative from the administration at every meeting who can report back to the other principals what comments and concerns are circulating through the faculty.
In addition to peer groups that would mix teachers from every department, teachers should still have a strong connection to the teachers in their own department, as well as their department head. Department meetings build teamwork and ensure that teachers are holding students to similar standards and expectations.
Student Teamwork in Elementary School
When working with younger students, it is important to keep their focus concentrated so as not to overwhelm them. A good size for a student team is simply a single classroom, where all of the students are familiar with each other. Building a team mentality between students means creating an environment where all students work and interact together, all keeping a collective end goal in mind. Some examples of elementary appropriate end goals include having everyone score 90 percent or higher on a spelling or math test, or everyone lining up quietly for recess five days in a row. Progress should be kept on a visual record, such as a sticker chart, so students know the class is doing, and can hold each other accountable. Students should also be engaged in frequent team building activities and get-to-know-your-neighbor games to build camaraderie and empathy among their classmates.
Student Teamwork in Middle School
Middle school students straddle the fence between maintaining their childlike mentalities and approaching young adulthood. Because of this, teamwork-building strategies should take components from both young and older children plans. Students in middle school can be grouped in "teams" or "pods" that consist of three homeroom classes. The teachers of these classrooms should schedule monthly "team meetings," where the students all come together to discuss with each other and their teachers their academic progress, concerns, plans for future fun activities, such as a team field day or field trip, or anything else that lets the students know they are working together toward a goal. Goals for middle school students can include passing their state benchmark exams, or raising money for a fun field trip at the end of the year, or completing a collective amount of community service hours.
Student Teamwork in High School
In high school, building a team mentality among students becomes more difficult as students become highly engrossed in individual achievement, social groups, athletics, college admissions, employment, and other extracurricular activities. Despite the possibility of initial student resistance, working to build a team atmosphere in high school can help eliminate many of the feelings of isolation associated with high school.
At the higher age level, teams can be built on the micro or the macro level. An example of teams at the micro level, would be having an hour each week for "club" team, where every student must attend a student-run, faculty sponsored club of their choice. Each club should be required to write a mission statement, raise a certain amount of funds for one field trip, and complete a certain number of community service hours, as well as plan and implement meeting agendas that are in line with the club's mission statement.
On the macro level, students can be teamed by grade level, or further divided by random homeroom pairings, or by academic focus. Large teams can focus on passing state benchmark exams, college and workforce admissions, funds for school dances and class trips and community service hours.
- an apple for the teacher image by Peter Baxter from Fotolia.com