I know what you are thinking, there is a HEAT WAVE passing through the city right now and a storm would be welcome! While I would agree about relief from the heat, that is not the kind of storm I am referencing here. As you think about getting ready to head back to your classrooms, school buildings, and school districts I want you to be prepared for the storms that inevitably lie ahead. New school years bring NEW TEAMS and new teams as we all know, go through a cycle (sometimes repeatedly) of forming, storming, norming, performing before they learn how to work together. While this cycle can be uncomfortable, it is important that you not be put off when the going gets rough. New teachers, new administrators and heck even new kids are going to misunderstand one another. When we come together in groups of any kind, we bring the sum total of our past experiences good and bad and use that lens to determine how to operate in our present setting. Newsflash. We don’t all come from the same spaces and experiences. With that in mind, in a group of 50 teachers, or 4 administrators, or 30 students you can expect equally as many varied experiences no matter how nice anyone plays together.
In their book Teamwork: What Must Go Right and What Can Go Wrong by Larson and LaFasto say that in order to establish a high functioning team environment, among other things you must:
- Have a clear and elevating goal. Set a vision collectively that ENERGIZES your team.
- Make room for the expertise of EACH team member. Focus on skills and talent not job titles to get a project done. This helps to create growth opportunities for all team members.
- Hold one another accountable for outcomes collectively and without bias. No matter who it is everyone should be responsible for contributing to the team meaningfully. This can mean some uncomfortable conversations but all have to dive in and ALL need to be heard when it comes to thinking about solutions.
- Put a leader in place (for each big project) that will keep the goal in mind and help the team to measure outcomes.
One of my favorite TED Talks on the subject is by Amy Edmondson. You can watch her below.
“I don’t think too many organizations welcome newcomers that way anymore, but still, many times people arrive with that message of scarcity anyway. It’s me or you. It’s awfully hard to team if you inadvertently see others as competitors.” ~Amy Edmondson
Let me add here that I think Edmondson addresses what can sometimes be the silent elephant in the room. As education professionals, we are all in this work to improve outcomes for kids who need us. While I don’t think any of you would dispute that, you might agree that sometimes the goal can get lost in what I think of as the politics of education. As a leader, be sure to send a clear message that all on your team are valued equally. When we stop fearing each other we can start to truly grow together.
Remember, to lead is to constantly learn, and while others may not tell you the truth I always will. There will be storms but if you help your team to survive them you will not only grow as a leader, you will grow as a person. ~ Dr. Kia
**NOTE** for more pictures of my travels, follow me on INSTAGRAM @drkiacoaches if you would like me to come and write about what you are doing in education, email me your event details at firstname.lastname@example.org