In any team sport, the success or failure of the team cannot be pinned on any one player but on how the team works together as a whole. Unity on the soccer field or on the basketball court is much more important than the skills of a single player.
This truth has parallels in our schools as well. To see success, defined as the desired growth and formation of a generation of students, one cannot look only to a single teacher for the credit. When students do poorly, a single teacher cannot necessarily be blamed either. Rather, schools need to see that their teachers act as a team and do what they can to unify their team for the behavioral and academic benefit of students.
Creating a team of teachers focused on similar goals and showing respect for one another is pivotal in reinforcing positive student behaviors. Teachers can demonstrate respect for fellow staff by speaking kindly of them in all situations, affirming the goals and decisions of others, and keeping necessary information confidential. Students are quick to notice when teachers do not model this behavior and many times take advantage of it.
Complaining about certain staff members may be exacerbated, and students may even begin to feel that other staff deserve to see their lack of effort or poor attitudes. However, when all teachers show respect for their colleagues, students understand that disrespect will not be approved of in the classroom. The faculty should not allow their team to be dishonored.
Not only does this team help students to respect the authority of other teachers, but it also gives them a model to follow. There is no individual born who naturally understands teamwork. Rather, it must be learned. That is part of the standards in several academic subjects, yet some adults in schools do not practice it, creating quite the contradiction. When students watch teachers working in unity, they learn by observation. They can see how each member has a role and understand how respect for classmates adds to team success.
With strong communication between staff members, students are not able to manipulate situations for their own selfish purposes. Naturally, some teachers are laxer about rules than others, and students may try to push more strict teachers to see their point of view. This can put a lot of pressure on staff, especially newer teachers who catch all of the grunting and eye-rolling if students are upset that an older and wiser teacher is more lenient.
Students may try other tactics as well to push staff to agree to their ways and sometimes find success even if it is not truly the best solution for the class dynamic. Yet, staff members should discuss the issues at hand frequently, and if they are pursuing the same goal, they can come to a solution that cuts down on inappropriate behaviors.
As teachers, we often feel the weight of the world upon our shoulders. Our students need to learn the subject material, but they also have to learn presentation skills, essay writing, and study techniques. It can feel overwhelming when we are not aware of the extent to which other teachers employ these skills in their classrooms.
However, by coming together and creating a teaching team that divides up the work, communicates needs, and celebrates progress, student achievement will increase, and no one staff member will feel responsible for preparing their students alone. The energy poured out by this team will be unparalleled to that of any one teacher. When teams decide to prioritize presentation, students will begin to grasp the importance of this skill in all areas of their life rather than in one particular classroom. Student learning is reinforced, and there is more continuity between courses. Academically, students will thrive when teachers form a team to train them in all areas.
What are some strategies to create a teacher team that has a positive effect on students? The primary needs are communication and respect. This means that some form of staff meeting must take place where goals are discussed and agreed upon by staff members. Without agreement on the goals at hand, it will become difficult to enforce them or fully be a part of the team.
Once the goals are established, discussion can ensue on how to reach the goals with a division of labor. During the period of instruction, continued check-ins must occur to keep the team together. This cohesion that will be created will make students feel secure in their atmosphere and benefit their academic excellence.
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