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Elena, I enjoyed reading your

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Elena,
I enjoyed reading your post and completely agree with you about the importance of teams in education. I think that teachers often feel isolated because we spend so much of our day in the classroom with our students and we often only have a few moments to interact and engage with other adults in our school. By being part of a team and having set time/space for collaboration, it gives us an opportunity to share and grow with our peers. Teams that are mixed grade-level and include specialists and others are even better because those are often the people that you rarely get to collaborate with.

Master Teacher East Iberville High School

TeamWork: Setting the Standard for Collaborative Teaching

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Teaming had the greatest impact on my teaching. My teaching prior to teaming was isolated and subject-bound. Teaming opened up to me not only great partnerships with amazing teachers who pushed me beyond my own expectations, but also allowed me to open up my subject to my students in non-traditional ways. Our goals focused solely on our students and the synergy created between the teachers, students, and parents changed lives including mine. We recorded our story with the amazing blessing of Stenhouse Publishers. The book is a realistic journey including the celebrations and the struggles, because each taught us invaluable lessons. Teaming can change a school, if all the team members wish to journey as one. Whether you read it or not, I encourage all teachers to share their stories. There are lessons to learn.

STEM curriculum writer, PLC author, consultant and trainer

Planning how to work together

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What good questions you ask, Elena, and what good insights you give. I think you are on target with the idea of a teaming having a clear purpose, a "safe" place that spotlights trust and room for healthy conflict, and rotating leadership. A couple of other thoughts you might consider:

1. to help with building the kind of team atmosphere you want, discuss as a team what behaviors you value in other team members and let those become part of a set of team norms. (Do this at the beginning of the process.) The facilitator for the meeting can gently refer to those norms as needed if the meeting starts getting off track.

2. Find a meeting space that's away from interruptions, if possible, and have these meetings as part of the school day.

3. Keep logs of meetings which contain just three things: (1) People present, (2) Big ideas from the meeting, and (3) Decisions made. Then email this log to the principal (who doesn't need to be a team member) and other teachers in the school. Start to establish a collective learning culture by sharing what you are learning and doing.

I could go on . . . and on . . . but mainly I want you to know that I've seen remarkable transformations occur in teaching and learning as a result of determined teachers who work together to increase their learning and impact.

Keep up your great work!

I work for a national association, representing our school constituency.

Thinking of the whole team

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I love what you have to say about teaming, but I'd like to suggest classroom teachers think about including other service providers in their teams. I had been a speech-langauge pathologist in the schools for many years, and found it so important to be included in grade level teams so I learned more about their issues and needs, as well as helped to problem solve around a variety of issues.

I teach collaboratively in a

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I teach collaboratively in a classroom with two other teachers and totally agree.

I would add: good structures to support the teams, and leadership that models teamwork and collaboration. Last night I did a Petcha Kutcha on Collaborative Teaching; my research, experiences and reflections http://tinyurl.com/d4ywaan

Thanks for great advice.

Elena - I think that you are

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Elena - I think that you are completely correct that a good team is essential! Being a member of a productive team definitely makes the difference. We constantly collaborate and research new things and philosophies. Working together is the best way to bounce ideas off of each other. You never know what creative thing someone might come up with!

As Jay said, celebration of your teams accomplishments is important. Celebrations allow for professional development and reflection on what went well. You can also critically analyze to see what you can work more on as a team.

I really enjoyed your post!

Principal - Van Buren Middle School (Van Buren, OH)

On Target!

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Elena - I agree 100%! #1 in "What makes a good team" is essential. Two other important points:

Don't spend 90+% of your time as a team discussing less than 5% of the kids - this leads to negativity from beating dead horses even 'deader'.

Celebrate your team's accomplishments - take time to reflect, which is really interwoven with professional learning.

Great post!!!

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