Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Becoming a Team

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Becoming a Team

Article excerpt

Just as trapeze artists must trust the workers who man the equipment and set up the nets, so team members must learn to trust each other. One of the main issues and concerns for teams is how to remain consistent and create unity among the teachers and students. Teaming is all about the importance of a group of people coming together for a common mission or cause. It is about developing the ability to trust one another and work together toward a common purpose.

For all those of us in the middle school, a common goal is to not let students carry out a hostile takeover! Let's be honest here; at any given time we are just 40 seconds away from having our class turn into a scene from Lord of the Flies.

Time to Get to Know Each Other

Once a team is created, they need time together. Great teams will meet in the summer prior to school. They might meet at a team member's house or a local establishment. The purpose is simple: to get to know each other.

It is critical to make sure you find time to talk about issues not related to school. Later, there will be plenty of opportunities to worry about progress reports, team celebrations, and who needs to bring doughnuts to the next team meeting.

Here are some ideas on what to do for the first meeting:

* Spend time talking about your teaching background.

* Talk about some of your teaching strategies.

* Share your pet peeves.

* Talk about family and why you became a teacher.

* List things you expect from your teammates.

* Share a great past team experience.

* Create a list of non-negotiables for you and for your team.

* Conduct a fun survey. Cosmo magazine always has a survey, although you might not want to know if your team member is a good kisser.

* Keep the first meeting lighthearted and have plenty of food. Remember my motto: Eating makes a meeting!

* Share a photo of yourself as a middle school student.

In his book, The Personal Trainer for Academic Teams, Randy Thompson emphasizes how critical it is for a team to work toward building an identity. This identity relates not only to students, but also to teachers. Randy suggests creating team banners, team resumes, and a team wall with information about the students and teachers.

Some teams list their degrees and accomplishments in their team area of the building. We should be proud of the hard work we have done and proud of the many hours we spend outside the classroom increasing our knowledge.

Getting Acquainted

Doing some fun things to get acquainted is a good way to start the process of team bonding. One great way to begin is to have all team members complete a slightly wacky multiple-choice questionnaire. Include questions such as:

1. On my iPod I do NOT have the following: a) Barry Manilow; b) Adele; c) Respighi; d) I don't own one.

2. If I weren't a teacher, I would be: a) a rodeo clown; b) a travel agent; c) a therapist; d) in therapy.

3. For fun, I: a) engage in athletic things like running, volleyball, weightlifting; b) read; c) I don't do fun! Fun is the devil's playground; d) yell at kids.

4. I work best with others when: a) they pretend to be cheerful; b) they do as I say; c) they leave me alone; d) they bring food to the meetings.

Give each team member a copy. After questionnaires are completed, shuffle the pages and redistribute them so that no one has his or her own paper.

Each team member reads a questionnaire and guesses whose answers they are. A teacher writes his or her guess on the page and passes it on. When the guessing spots are filled (I suggest five guesses), keep passing papers until each one comes back around to the original writer.

Each member can share responses to his or her questionnaire. Or the team leader can read a completed paper and everyone can guess. Or team members can comment on one or two of their answers.

Here's how you can use another questionnaire:

Develop a questionnaire that asks the question, "Which one of your teammates is most likely to. …

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