A Team Affair (08/14)

I have been interested in team dynamics since I was in high school. Back then, my best buddy and I wanted to become sportscasters. We spent long hours trying to learn and understand strategies being used in game contexts. We wanted to make sense of some team's success by analyzing players' statistics. Only later in College and University did I start to study and apply what I was learning in psychology and sociology classes. One key element was chemistry. The chemistry between individuals was a factor that stats on a player's card were not illustrating. I moved on in my interests and desires from sports, to journalism, to politics, to social activism, then to theatre and eventually to the world of education.

The conflict between individual drives and desires and collective good when working in a group or in a partnership is probably what makes people's creativity and ability to innovate going. The centrifugal forces of leaving the core to pursue personal interests must be balanced by the gain or need of staying together. When it comes to team sports, large business ventures, or the performing arts it makes sense for talented and skilled individuals to stay and work with the group for as long as the guidelines and parameters are acceptable compared to what might offer other opportunities. I have been several time in my life influenced by such forces.

Now when talking about education the lines are blurring. Being tradition, established structures, or pure habits teaching and learning can be perceived as an individual act. This context has now changed. Education is a team sport! I am not pretending to have invented the concept, far from it. Research expresses it better than I can on numerous platforms. I was actually involved in a team teaching program when I did my practicum 20 years ago. What I am realizing now is that the changing landscape of education makes it easier to apply and more widely accepted.

But still remains the challenge of walking through the four stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, performing with a group of educators. The commitment has to be mid/long term. Relationships have to be built and sustained. Effort has to be place initially in developing, common goals and new shared approaches with a built-in mechanism for feedback, reflection, and review. Strong doses of openness, honesty, and patience are essential for success.

Ultimately, the true measure of success is the quality and effectiveness of our teaching and its impact on the life of our students. That by itself is what one can say: "our Championship Cup" or "our team affair" :-)