Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Teams Work

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Teams Work

Article excerpt

SCHOOLWIDE improvement was the furthest thing from our minds. As members of the sixth-grade team at University School in Bloomington, Indiana, we wanted only to provide the best education possible for the 100 or so youngsters entrusted to us each year. Yet much of what David Ebeling, Ann Snell, Karen Stucky, and I experienced between the fall of 1970 and the spring of 1972 -- when sixth grade was moved to middle school and our team reluctantly disbanded- - affirms the points that Gene Maeroff makes in this month's Kappan.

Our sixth-grade team was established not through an academy, but through serendipity. We worked in a former lab school, where innovation flourished and collaboration was a way of life. Every teacher at U School was a student of education by necessity, if not by choice. The buildings that housed the various grade levels were discrete, connected only by covered walk-ways, and each building had a large "commons" area that invited interaction.

Perhaps most important, our principal, David Rowland, believed in his faculty. He wasn't a formal member of any grade-level team, but he had sure and certain knowledge that all those teams were doing their best to make U School an exemplary learning environment.

Rowland allowed team members to choose replacements when openings arose. That approach brought like-minded people together and gave other team members an investment in the success of the newcomers.

During our two years together, the professional lives of the sixth-grade team were inextricably intertwined. The four of us shared field trips and guest speakers and planning times. We traded students when the original placements proved less than optimal. We talked about the research findings that impinged on our practice, hammered out our building's rules together, worked cooperatively to resolve problems, developed and taught units together, and capitalized on one another's strengths. …

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