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“Getting good players is easy. Getting them to play together—that’s the hard part.”  Casey Stengle

“Teachers responsible for the team must enter their work with clear commitment to a shared vision of what their team can become, and they must contribute their moral support, energy, and ideas for strategies that have promise of helping them move deliberatively toward realization of the vision.”  Chris Stevenson, Teaching Ten to Fourteen Year Olds.

Dr. Stevenson is a retired professor of education from the University of Vermont.  He has been a advocate for young adolescents and exemplary middle level education for many years. Below are some of his thoughts on teaming; they are described in detail in Teaching Ten to Fourteen Year Olds. Perhaps this outline will be helpful as a self-assessment for existing teams and a guide for new ones.

8 Essential Issues For Teams

  • Governance: how the team is organized for decision making
  • Team Identity: what the team stands for
  • Operating Procedures: daily, monthly, or semester calendar
  • Communication: how decisions are shared within and beyond the team
  • Recognition: how accomplishment is recognized
  • Curriculum: what is to be taught and learned
  • Accountability: how evidence about team effectiveness is collected
  • Teacher Efficacy: benefits to the adults involved

Governance: how the team is organized for decision-making

  • How will we decide?
  • What if someone really disagrees?
  • How will we make sure each of our voices is heard?
  • What will our norms be?

Team Identity: what the team stands for

  • Statement of beliefs
  • Team name
  • Team colors
  • Rituals & traditional activities
  • Expectations and standards

Operating Procedures: daily, monthly, or semester calendar

  • How will team meeting be run?
  • How will we make sure we are addressing each student’s needs
  • What about homework? Helping students with organization?
  • How will we begin the year so that each student has a good start?
  • How will we get to know the parents quickly and in a positive fashion?

Communication: how decisions are shared within and beyond the team

  • With each other
  • With other teams
  • With special ed?  Guidance?
  • With allied arts?
  • With administration?
  • With students?
  • With parents
  • With community?

Recognition: how is accomplishment is recognized

  • Academic achievement
  • Outside of school achievements
  • Sports and extra-curricular activities?
  • Traditions we want to start
  • Student voice

Curriculum: what is to be taught and learned

  • Where can we collaborate?
  • How will we make sure we are not assigning big projects & tests all at the same time?
  • Which standards overlap our different disciplines?
  • Student questions—where do they fit in?
  • Should we try an interdisciplinary unit?  What? Why?

Accountability: how evidence about team effectiveness is collected?

  • How will make sure we are looking at each child’s progress?
  • What will we do if a child is not achieving?
  • How will we use test scores to help us meet student needs?
  • How will we be knowledgeable about the team culture—that bullying or harassment is not going on? That students are gaining confidence as well as competence?

Teacher Efficacy: benefits to the adults involved?

  • How will we build trust among us?
  • How will we collaborate?
  • How will communicate with honesty?
  • How will we stay focused?
  • How will we celebrate our triumphs—large and small?
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