A positive and collaborative adult culture is essential to a positive and collaborative student culture.
As educators, we must attend to both.
We can’t expect our student culture to thrive if that quality is not present in our adult community. As adults, we set the tone. Schools should be places where everyone is a learner, where everyone collaborates, where all voices are heard, and where we share responsibility and power.
But how? Below we share our favorite resources on a few essential elements of a thriving adult culture: effective teaming, better meetings, culture-building and self-care.
If you’ve been fortunate to work as part of an effective teaching team, we don’t need to convince you of the power and benefit of such deep collaboration (not to mention the moral support!). According to The Successful Middle School,
A signature component of middle schooling is the interdisciplinary team of two or more teachers working with a common group of students for a shared block of time, ideally in proximate space. Effective teams serve as the foundation for a strong learning community…They can provide young adolescents for the sense of belonging, social bonding, and connectedness. They can also lead to improved student achievement, improve family engagement, and other positive outcomes. (p. 51)
But the benefits of effective teaming require a strong foundation.
To achieve these benefits of teaching teams require daily common planning time. Educators need regular opportunities to discuss how – and how well – they are meeting learners’ needs. During common planning time, teachers plan how they will integrate curriculum and personalize learning. They analyze and reflect on assessment data and student work, discuss current research, and reflect on their team’s effectiveness. (p. 51)
Whether you’re just getting started or have been teaming for years, these resources can help you as you collaborate with your colleagues:
- Laying the groundwork for effective teaching teams
- Maintaining a teaching team
- Self analysis and teaming
- How one district gave teachers the gift of time
If you are an administrator looking to support your teaching teams, we are also fans of Elena Aguilar’s work, especially The Art of Coaching Teams.
Once you have your teaming structure established, and have carved out regular time for collaboration, it’s time to think about making the most of this time together.
Time is a precious resource, and we often feel like we don’t have enough if it. Collaboration works best face to face, yet if we spend out meetings reviewing logistics or getting sucked into fruitless discussions we might not be making the best use of the time we do get. This series of posts can help you and your team build a better container for collaboration so you can bring your vision to life.
- How to make meetings more effective
- Getting started with protocols
- Using protocols for equity
- Setting online norms for faculty meetings
We love the School Reform Initiative’s protocols so much, we even use them in our internal meetings. Don’t forget the debrief, it’s essential! Reflecting on how our meeting and discussion worked – or didn’t – gives us valuable insight we can apply to future meetings.
How we show up matters. A lot.
Are you showing up as a captive or a curious learner?
The energy we bring impacts the collective energy of the group. Think of someone whose presence always lifts your spirits. We need to decide, each day, each moment, how we are showing up, and to be aware of how our energy is impacting the collective.
It’s also important to play and laugh together. This is what humans – young and grown – often seek in their free time. Why not begin faculty meetings by teaching each other favorite advisory games? This serves double purpose: not only do we laugh together, but we’ll have new ideas to bring to our students.
- 3 ways to bring positive emotional energy to your school
- Change is hard, sometimes tweaking our habits can help
- Advisory for educators
It’s hard to give what we don’t have. You’ve heard it before, the thing about putting your own oxygen mask on first. Sleep. Movement. Nourishment. A good therapist. Care work is hard work. Take care of yourselves out there.
- To the emotional resilience of educators
- Self care for educators
- Pandemic Teaching: Self-Care Edition
Food for thought
When you have the time and bandwidth for it, we’d like to leave you with a few other pieces of food for thought.
- #vted Reads The Culture Code with Bill Rich
- #vted Reads: Troublemakers with Mike Martin
- #vted Reads: Care Work with Dr. Winnie Looby
- Access the whole #vted Reads Archives here!
Our work as educators is undeniably challenging under the best circumstances, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Especially when we feel connected to and supported by our colleagues.