We’re talking this month about being a member of a professional learning community. Think about what that means: “professional learning community.” In every team there is a place for camaraderie, but the objective of a learning community is for teachers to work together in the spirit of growth that ultimately enhances student performance.
I have seen “teams” work from opposite ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between. In one school, I witnessed teams that were more congenial than collegial. In another school, I found teachers so wrapped in competition they could not work together.
The congenial teams were filled with teachers who had a great year building morale and enjoying each other as colleagues and friends. The enjoyment often spilled into the off hours, and there was a real sense of excitement about being at school to see each other. The problem was that students’ performance was not enhanced by the relationships of the teachers.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have worked with schools that had such structured expectations of team performance that teachers dreaded going to work. The environment the administration was attempting to create actually backfired and teachers ran to their rooms to shut their doors.
What does this mean for your team? Take a good look at the way your team operates. Answer these three questions: 1. What are the goals your team works together to accomplish? (You do have established goals, don’t you?) 2. How does your team spend the majority of its time together? (Does gossip take place during your team time- how much time?) 3. Do your students benefit? (How do you know?)
Your team can be successful. Take each question one by one and let your answers be your guide.