One of the major benefits of teaming is that teachers are able to work together to create an environment that supports all students. One of the challenges that many teams often face as they work to maintain a supportive team culture is violence in the school. Mary Callan writes a thoughtful post for the Bright Futures blog on a recent study about violence prevention programs. She reports the discouraging results of the study — violence prevention programs are not working in middle schools. We all know that fear, whether from physical or psychological threats, impedes learning. Obviously then, team teachers have to look beyond the school’s violence prevention practices to build the team environment that promotes learning.
Dr. Callan, a former middle school principal and current adjunct professor, wonders in her post if the anti-violence programs incorporate ideas from the research on the conditions that promote resiliency in children. She mentions six factors that are imperative if we want to help students develop the capacity to be strong in the face of adversity and the ability to bounce back from difficult situations (http://brightfutures4me.wordpress.com/):
1. Academic efficacy: Every student needs to feel that they are able to learn.
2. Academic self-determination: Every student needs to have choices and control over their learning.
3. Behavioral self-control: Every student needs to feel that they have the ability to control their behaviors.
4. Positive Teacher/student relationships: Every student needs to have a positive relationship with their teacher.
5. Positive Peer relationships: Every student needs to have positive peer relationships.
6. Positive Home/school relationships: Every student needs to have positive relationships between home and the school.
These six factors are certainly reflected in the major literature and research findings about effective practices for young adolescents. A team would not go wrong using these six factors as guiding principles for their work together. They center on developing students who are focused, responsible for their own actions and decisions, and able to interact positively with a variety of people.
Some folks may throw their hands up and shout, “But you haven’t mentioned academics!”
My response…These capacities of a believing in one’s ability to learn, managing one’s own behavior, and dealing well with others are not addressed in isolation. Of course, an intellectually stimulating curriculum based on high standards is the centerpiece of a team’s work. However, by looking at academic programming through the lens of these six factors of resiliency, team teachers can collaboratively plan an instructional approach that helps develop flexible, strong, respectful, and academically accomplished students.