High-performing, collaborative faculty and staff teams are essential to school improvement and high quality education. In my view, a high quality education is inquiry-based, project-based and transdisciplinary. Students in top-notch schools are engaged in meaningful and relevant learning. They love to go to school, are excited about learning and make excellent progress academically, intellectually and socially. To create this kind of school, teachers and administrators must work together collaboratively in high performing teams. Make no mistake, team building and school improvement are hard work, and deeply rewarding for those who are passionate about education.
To create collaborative, high performing schools, leaders must provide strong school leadership and the necessary resources. Otherwise, it won’t happen. The Team Performance Model and Team Performance Indicator by Allan Drexler and David Sibbet are excellent tools to assess and build teams. Drexler and Sibbet identify seven stages of team development in their model: 1) Orientation, 2) Trust Building, 3) Goal Clarification, 4) Commitment, 5) Implementation, 6) High Performance, and 7) Renewal.
At what level is your management team? Your faculty? Your board? Are they stuck in the Orientation stage where people are trying to figure out whether they fit and will be welcome and happy on the team? All too often, people struggle to move beyond this stage.
If they do, they move on to the Trust Building stage. Do your teachers trust each other? Do they plan together and coordinate what students are learning across disciplines? The Trust Building stage is often the toughest stage, but it’s absolutely crucial. People have to trust each other to work effectively in teams.
After building trust, team members must clarify their goals and figure out their priorities. In the Goal Clarification stage, teachers, administrators, board members and other members of the many teams in schools, must discuss and determine how to get from point A to point B.
Then they need to make commitments to each other to get the job done. In the Commitment stage, people need to agree on who’s doing what and hold themselves and others accountable.
In the Implementation stage, teams move from talking and planning to doing. This is where it gets exciting. We see firsthand the fruits of our labors. Students and parents begin noticing the difference too. They sense greater camaraderie and enthusiasm among staff, and feel more excited about coming to school.
As staff continue to work together collaboratively, they move into the High Performance stage. Team members have learned to trust each other. Methods have been mastered Implementation has been successful. The fabulous part about this stage is that teams can now focus on adapting to changing circumstances with ease and flexibility, and surpass expectations.
Teams are constantly changing. People come and go. The Renewal stage is a time to rejuvenate and prepare for a new cycle of action.