being a teacher, reflection

Building a Team of Teachers

I happen to be on an incredible team, and while I have always been on good teams, there is something rather magical about the team I on now.  Whether it is sense of humor or mutual respect, I am not sure, but my team, yeah, it jives.  Yet we are pretty different and we do different things, some of our major teaching philosophy points differ, and we deliver lessons differently, most of the time that would spell disaster but on this team it doesn’t.  So why not?

  1. Mutual respect.  I believe my team mates are capable of teaching well and they know that.  
  2. We speak to each other.  I know this sounds like a “well duh” but I am constantly surprised by how many teams don’t.  We are constantly in each others rooms, we have official meetings and unofficial ones.  We hang out outside of school, we text each other, and tweet each other.  We discuss students, and school sure, but also life and dreams.
  3. We know each others’ strengths.  We also know each others’ weaknesses which is just as important   I happen to know that Jarod is really good at getting kids passionate about their writing and Mark is a math expert.   Both of them have many talents and I use their expertise whenever I can.
  4. We care about the same thing; the kids.  We do everything for the kids and we support each other to be the best possible teachers for our particular students.  We also switch kids around for math so that all of the 5th grade become our kids.  This is huge for us.
  5. We are open to new ideas.  I am not afraid to share ideas with these two guys, sometimes they like them, sometimes they don’t.  We borrow ideas vigorously and then adapt to fit our class, no hurt feelings if we don’t use something.
  6. We are honest with each other.  And that even means if we have differences.  I don’t talk poorly about something one of my teammates has done (although I cannot think of what that would be anyway) but if something does irritate we go straight to each other and figure it out.
  7. We hear each other out.  My teammates know that I am passionate about the detriment of standardized testing and punishment in classrooms.  They also know how I feel about homework, grades, and all of those things that make my classroom a bit different.  They always hear me out without judgment and even sometimes see my point.  That doesn’t mean it wil work for them and I am ok with that.
  8. Believe in them as professionals.  I do not think my team mates are poor teachers because they do not teach like I do.  We are so quick to judge others that haven’t gone a more nontraditional route and it leads to strife rather than understanding.  I believe every teacher needs to teach in a way that suit them best.
  9. We lead at different times.  Mark and Jarod will attest to the fact that I like to be in control at all times, hopefully they will also attest to the fact that i know when to step down as leader.  I would say our team has three leaders  we all step up at different times for different reasons, that balance is huge.  No one feels like they have to do everything and everyone shares the responsibility.  
  10. We laugh together a lot.  Being a teacher is supposed to bring you joy so when we can we share funny things or just crack each other up.  We have enough pressures from the outside, I want to have fun at school with both my students and fellow teachers.
  11. We support each other.  When I put on #EdCampMadWI they both showed up.  Took the time out of their busy day and came to something because they knew it was important to me.  When they saw how much I tweet they didn’t laugh or call it silly, they got it.  When I told them I get to have a book published in September they congratulated me.  I do the same for them, I am not jealous of their succeses only eager to see them succeed more because it boosts the whole team.

We certainly can teach in our own bubbles.  We certainly can keep to ourselves and nt worry about what other people in our grade is doing.  But why should we?  The power of a team is the same as the power of a global PLN.  Why not be surrounded by people who build you up rather than break you down?

PS:  If you want to see my teammates, follow them on Twitter:  Mark and Jarod (they are still learning…)

5 thoughts on “Building a Team of Teachers”

  1. Great tips! It sounds like you've got a great working relationship with your team. Number 4, in particular, is so important- keeping the focus on the kids. They should always come first.

  2. Pernille, your post speaks to exactly what me and my two teammates have been working so hard to create. It's been an uphill climb to say the least, and we are still working to get the right people in place to best fit the kids' need on all three of our 4th grade teams, but we're very proud of what we've accomplished over the last year and a half.As I think about your list, I think about how much three of us do all of these things and how much one person does not. I'm not sure that we will ever being able to bring her around from her fixed mindset, but I know we need to continue to try. Thanks for posting this list and confirming the qualities we feel are important for a successful team.

  3. This was a really great post. I think that my teaching style differs greatly from yours, but I always love reading your blog because you present your ideas so well. Even if I end up feeling differently at the end, I always understand where you're coming from and that's what's important (to me at least). I always come away from reading your blog thinking about something that I never would have thought about before, or thinking about something deeper and more critically.

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