Newsletter 53 School - Working Together

Working Together: Teams and Groups

"Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" Anonymous.

Cooper argues that according to psychologists “a team is more than a group. Team members are more dependent on each other and produce work that is based on collaboration and collective effort” with a shared objective. Bruce Tuckman described the stages that a team goes through from forming, norming to storming and performing. This happens over time and each stage is recognized by certain key characteristics.

Forming – this stage is short and the team is established with clear objective

Storming – the team deals with conflict and support less confident members

Norming – team members better understand each other and focus on the common objective

Performing – teams enjoys their effort of progress set against targets and the common objective

Here, according to Cooper et al are a few tips to work as an effective team – some of it you may recognize;

  • Accommodate different viewpoints
  • Nurture disagreement by encouraging team members to engage with alternative views

In school teachers are put together in teams by virtue of their appointment, job description and their respective role and function in the school. Selecting members to form part of the team very seldom happens, volunteering is then more the practice. Membership are ex officio and this can becomes a threat to building strong teams. Each member of the team has a role to play but the sum-total is more than its constituent members…the team or collective too has a second clear role and function. It is this second duty and responsibility that is sometimes overlooked or underplayed and neglected.

Let me give an illustration – a HoD in the Foundation Phase (Grade R-3) is a member of a School Management Team (SMT) of five members and he/she represents the functioning of the Foundation Phase. This however is not his/her only duty – his/her second responsibility is to act as part of the collective (the team) and make decisions and be responsible for the implementation of the entire school curriculum (from Grade R-7).

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