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Monday, February 08, 2016

Teacher Leadership: Teams within Teams

As we move away from the one-teacher-one-classroom model in schools, how can we maximize the positive potential of a teams within teams approach. I recognize that this approach already occurs at some levels and in some schools, and in this respect, how do we build the model to make it more powerful and successful with regard to student service?

For example, rather than thinking of a school as having 30 teachers, a school would be dominated by the fact that it has five teaching/learning teams.

In this regard, teams would work together perhaps by grade-level, age, interest, content, project, or whatever the school deemed best, and as these teams worked together they would utilize both similar and different structures, routines, schedules, and content dependent upon their team goals.

How would this team approach affect schools? This would likely differ from school to school, but I can imagine the following changes.

The placement of team space would be important. The team would have designated space in the school building and designated times for common spaces.

Structures such as PLCs, RTI, and advisory can serve the collaboration well. For example, perhaps all teachers related to the team have a homeroom, not just typical classroom teacher. This might provide greater service and targeted care for students as well as particular areas of the curriculum that demand low numbers and lots of teacher-student interaction such as read aloud, journal writing, procedures/forms, and social competency.

The team members would work together to maximize the impact of their routines with regard to students' learning and positive experience of school.

Similarly team schedules would differ dependent on student age, interest, need, and again focus on what's best with regard to student learning goals and their experience of school in general.

This too would differ from team to team with recognition and adherence to systemwide and State goals, school context, student interest, and learning/teaching research.

Professional Learning
To begin with the professional learning would focus on what it means to lead with team including a focus on collaborative leadership, goal setting, collaborative learning design, reflection, revision, conflict resolution, and more.

Right now most evaluation systems focus on individual students, I'd like to see this focus move to a focus on the entire school and system instead. In the meantime, there could be an element of evaluation and review focused on the collaboration and efforts of team.

It's important in this regard that leadership look at the research and determine how they will promote what research is telling us works with regard to knowledge workers like educators and that's to empower autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I would also add collaboration to this list. How can leadership work with teams in ways that empower what they can do in positive, proactive, ways that foster "leading from behind," "servant leadership," and "collective genius." These ideas are introduced in this wonderful Harvard Business School interview with Linda Hill: