Increasingly, learning institutions are embracing teamwork as a method that equally engages both the student and the instructor in the learning process. Today, teamwork is one of the most essential skills employers seek when determining the suitability of a candidate for employment. Other than being an essential aspect of the modern working culture, teamwork in school improves the learning process, according to a study by Elsa Sánchez and Richard Craig, researchers at Pennsylvania State University.
Team Based Learning
Team-based learning is a move away from the traditional teaching process where the instructor is the primary dispenser of information. Team-based learning is a collaborative form of teaching that focuses on student group-work, experiential learning, and team-decision making. Larry K. Michaelsen and Michael Sweet of California State University note that team-based learning improves content retention and encourages the formation of student managed learning groups across the school setting. For teamwork to be effective within the classroom the groups must be properly managed to eliminate communication barriers and students must take up responsibility for the group and for their individual contribution. Learning teams also work effectively when the group assignments are geared towards promoting teamwork as well as individual learning.
Collective Problem Solving Among Faculty
The school management and administration plays a key role in fostering a culture of teamwork in a school. Regular teamwork activities bring educators and the school administration together to identify problems affecting the learning process, exchange ideas, set goals and objectives, propose strategies for problem solving, and develop roadmaps. According to the National Institute for Urban School Improvement, teamwork among faculty is successful where there is an emphasis on discussion and a balance between each member’s input. Fairness, group rules and proper time management are also prerequisites for effective teamwork among faculty.
Instructional Assistant and Teacher Collaboration
The teacher instructional assistant partnership espouses an important aspect of teamwork in the school setting. For this partnership to be successful, both the teacher and the instructional assistant must share responsibilities, establish common goals, and agree on the expected outcomes. Effective teamwork between teachers and their instructional assistants hinges on a commitment to good communication and respect for professionalism and ethics. In a teacher and instructional assistant team, the teacher assumes the leading role, while the assistant serves to reinforce and support the student learning process.
Inclusive Decision Making
To nurture a culture of teamwork within the school, school leaders must create a positive environment for teachers. According to a commentary by the New York State Department’s Special Education and Vocational Rehabilitation Services, excluding teachers from important decision making processes is one of the greatest causes of a lack of motivation and high turnover rates in schools. To encourage collaboration in improving the learning process, school leaders must involve teachers in crucial decision-making, and allow teachers to take leadership roles in their own capacity as team leaders. A good example of teacher inclusion is seeking teachers’ input in the development of annual goals and objectives, or encouraging teachers to come together to solve specific learning problems.
Teamwork between parents, community stakeholders and the school encourages continuous collaboration in solving problems affecting student learning. The National Network of Partnership Schools recommends the formation of an action team for partnership in schools that are keen on bolstering community support and involvement, to improve the learning process. An action team for partnerships is a small group, between six-to-twelve members, made up of teachers, parents, administrators, and community stakeholders. The ATP’s role is fostering cordial relations between the school and the community, and involving the community in the school’s goals, to encourage student success. The ATP develops yearly school improvement goals and organizes activities to help the community and the school achieve these goals as a team.
- Science Daily: Teamwork Improves Learning And Career Success; November 9, 2007
- California State University: The Essential Elements of Team-Based Learning; Larry K. Michaelsen and Michael Sweet
- National Institute for Urban School Improvement: Working Together: Groupwork, Teamwork, and Collaborative Work Among Teachers
- WISC-ONLINE: Teamwork in a School Setting
- National Network of Partnership Schools: Action Team for Partnerships
- New York State Department Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID); Special Education and Vocational Rehabilitation Services: Keeping Quality Teachers the Art of Retaining General and Special Education Teachers
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