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Creating Change in Systems through Professional Teamwork

By Irene Fountas

Real change in the educational system can only happen when teachers and administrators work together on behalf of all the students.  Too often educators are focused on their individual roles and the power of the team in changing the landscape is lost. The quality of teamwork has the power to improve the expertise of all members of the team and the children will benefit.

Think for a minute about how the teachers and administrators relate to each other as professional colleagues in your building. Reflect on the following questions to take the temperature of the teamwork in your building:

  • How do the educators relate to each other – as individuals, as several smaller groups, or as a whole team?
  • How generous are colleagues in supporting each other’s learning?
  • Do educators see their roles as serving the students they teach and supporting their colleagues in serving the students they teach?
  • When a teacher or administrator has a problem to solve, does the team step up to be part of the solution?
  • Is each member of the team open and eager for new professional learning and day by day work on the craft of teaching?
  • Does each member of the team seek opportunities for coaching to support their continuous professional learning?
  • Does talk about colleagues serve to support or criticize?
  • What language does the team use to talk about the students – our students or my students, my school or our school?
  • If a colleague is having difficulty, what should he expect from the team?

The principal and coach can play a key role in supporting the professionalism of the school culture. Consider how you can work as partners to support the teamwork in your building so all students can benefit from a coherent, constructive educational experience.

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