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  • All students belong to all of us.
  • All students and staff are leaders.
  • All students and staff can learn.
  • All students and staff should have equal access to quality education.
  • All students and staff shall learn in a safe, nurturing environment.
  • All students and staff merit trust and honor.
  • We are here to nurture one another’s successes.
  • Conflict is an opportunity, and we will work towards resolution.
  • Positive risk-taking is highly valued.
  • Mistakes should lead to learning.

Rick Wormeli listed his middle school’s core values in an NMSA Middle Ground article entitled “Middle School Teams: Not in Name Only”. The entire article can be found at http://www.nmsa.org/portals/0/pdf/publications/On_Target/teaming/ teaming_4_nameonly.pdf – 39.1KB.

When a school’s teams share core values such as the ones listed above, and time and energy is allotted to nurturing and reflecting on those values, the fallout from the nasty green-eyed monster of professional jealousy can be avoided.  The green-eyed monster is a phenomenon whereby innovative teachers face disdain and rejection by their colleagues and is way too common in schools. It is described in a Harvard Education Letter piece by Julie Wood.

I vividly remember an example from my school.  There was a team (not mine) that just clicked.  I shouldn’t say “just clicked”; they worked hard at developing their team structure and procedures with meetings during the summer and really productive common planning times. When they did things out of the ordinary, there were often snide remarks about that “star team”.  Why?  Well, some folks were probably worried that activities this team did would be expected from everyone else.  Perhaps others felt their own teams really were just a team in name only. Whatever the reason, the green-eyed monster prevented any collegial sharing of ideas for making all of our teams more effective. That was a loss for the entire school community.

Almost every school has core values posted on their walls.  I suspect very few spend any time reflecting on how those values are acted upon by the teams.  Eradicating the green-eyed monster among a school’s  teams needs to be an active, on-going process. Some suggestions:

  • Read Julie Wood’s article in a staff meeting.  Use a think-pair-share strategy to process the article and think about ways to ensure that the green-eyed monster doesn’t rear its ugly head in your school. (Don’t waste time agonizing whether it’s already there–folks will just get defensive and huffy.)
  • Take time to build in community building activities. Check out http://www.teachmeteamwork.com/

Team building can be used to relax everyone before a meeting or as a transition between activities on a staff development day. Teachers can adapt them for advisory or their classes.  Mix up the teams and the Allied Arts folks for these activities!  It’s always important to take time to reflect on the activity:

• Why were we successful in this activity?

•How do the strategies that we used to solve this challenge transfer to our work together as a school?

The business world uses team building activities all of the time.  There are expensive corporate retreats with trainers.  Just google “team building” and look at all of the businesses that exist willing to come and work with your organization!  Schools should not feel guilty about using time to develop these same skills for free that corporate America spends tons of money on.

  • Build in share time on a regular basis.  Ask each team to share a successful strategy they use.  Ask your weaker teams to go first so they won’t agonize over what they will showcase.  Use a protocol for descriptive feedback:
  1. How does this strategy reflect our core values?
  2. How might this strategy be adapted and/morphed for other purposes?
  • Use Survey Monkey or other free survey tools to check the pulse of the staff on issues that might lead to the green-eyed monster sneaking out of its subterranean cave. Share the results with the staff using a data protocol (Don’t just ask, “What do you think?”).
  1. What do you notice?
  2. What surprises you?
  3. What validates what you already believed?
  4. What additional information do we need?
  5. What are the issues we need to attend to?

Building a school climate where teams work in a truly collegial manner is worth the time because staff will improve their craft by learning from one another, creatively solve challenges facing the school, and banish that “green-eyed monster” which can be so divisive to schools.

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