Making schools successful takes more than just individual effort - it takes
teamwork. Schools are using teams to accomplish many tasks. Teams may work
on site-based decisionmaking
While successful teamwork can be rewarding in itself, teamwork should focus on meeting the academic and social needs of all students in the school. Just as the school vision and mission should focus on student learning, team building, team planning, and team developing should be directed toward improving student outcomes.
OVERVIEW: In many schools, teachers work in isolation, administrators try to accomplish tasks alone, and the responsibility of implementating new ideas falls to individuals. Working together in teams often is a more effective way to accomplish important tasks. Teams have many advantages over individuals working in isolation. Teams tend to be better at solving problems, have a higher level of commitment, and include more people who can help implement an idea or plan. Moreover, teams are able to generate energy and interest in new projects.
Both research and practice demonstrate the advantages that teams bring to accomplishing goals. But effective teams do not develop by accident. Teams take time, skills, and knowledge to be successful.
Kent Peterson, professor of educational administration, University of Wisconsin-Madison, challenges administrators to support team-building and collaboration by providing time and resources, in order to reap the benefits effective teams can bring to schools (audio comment, 313k). Excerpted from a presentation given at NCREL's Urban School Leadership Mini-Conference in July 1993. A text transcript is available.
GOALS: School leaders (including administrators, teachers, and parents) should help nurture and build highly committed teams for accomplishing school activities and goals, which may include school improvement planning, site-based management, budget and personnel decisions, and implementing programs or plans.
Former kindergarten teacher from Joyce Elementary School in Detroit, Diana Langlois, talks about how her principal supports team building and learning at the school and the benefits that have resulted (QuickTime slide show, 487k). Excerpted from NCREL's urban school leadership case studies (1992). A text transcript is available.
Obtain support, training, and information on shared decisionmaking, perhaps by contacting organizations that work with schools in developing teams.
Kent Peterson, professor of educational administration, University of Wisconsin-Madison, discusses the challenges of collaboration and the need for coaching (audio comment, 210k). Excerpted from a presentation at NCREL's Urban School Leadership Mini-Conference in July 1993. A text transcript is available.
DIFFERENT POINTS OF VIEW: Few people would deny that teams can be highly effective. But some believe that teams must face enormous obstacles before they can become effective in schools. Some teachers have never worked on teams and actually became teachers so that they could work independently. In other cases, staff and administrators have not been trained to cope with the special challenges of working in teams and practicing shared decisionmaking.
Piccolo Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois
Joyce Elementary School, Detroit, Michigan
Hollibrook Elementary School, Houston, Texas
Audubon Elementary School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Accelerated Schools Project, CERAS 109, School of Education, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-3084, 415-725-1676 Contact: Beth Keller, assistant director of communications, e-mail: email@example.com
California School Leadership Academy, 313 W. Winton Ave., Hayward, CA 94544-1198, 510-670-4569, Contact: Laraine Roberts, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Leadership in School Reform, 950 Breckenridge Lane, Suite 200, Louisville, Kentucky 40207, 502-895-1942 Contact: Marty Vowels, e-mail: email@example.com
Coalition for Essential Schools, Dr. Ted Sizer, Director, Box 1938, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, 401- 863-2847
CMI, 711 South Blvd., Suite 9, Oak Park, IL 60302, 708-383-7970, FAX 708-383-0819, Contact: Bruce Hodes, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
School Development Program, Yale Child Study Center, 230 South Frontage Rd., Box 3333, New Haven, CT 06510, 203-785-2548 Contact: Cynthia Savo, WWW: http://info.med.yale.edu/comer
Program for School Improvement, College of Education, 124 Aderhold Hall, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, 706-542-2516, Contact: Lew Allen, director of outreach, e-mail: email@example.com
This Critical Issue summary was researched and written by Kent Peterson, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Date posted: 1995