Are your teacher teams working at peak performance to help bring about school innovation and change?
It’s sometimes easy in the late spring or dog days of August to gather ourselves and build a vision of deep, impactful learning for our students and ourselves. Then the hard work and long days of the school year take hold and things slip. What we were passionate about in theory now becomes some extra work or uncomfortable change to the routine of last year or the last decade and we default to what we know or think has worked in the past.
Moving through the work of building systematic capacity for sustainable change is the meat of innovation. A key element to building that capacity is creating a true team-based approach to our work. We know from centuries of evidence that well-connected, strongly networked, creative, and productive teams are utterly key to the process of innovation. None of us, no matter how creative, insightful, and hard-working, are as productive as a high-performing team.
I went to school, literally, this week at Ortiz Middle School in Santa Fe, where Julie Wilson, Director of the Institute for the Future of Learning, and I are working this year on building vision and capacity with a cohort of middle school teachers who have accepted the challenge to dramatically change a low-performing, underserved public school. My role has been to push the team to create a vision based on their highest ideals of peak learning and essential outcomes; and then to observe and give feedback on how those vision elements are percolating in classrooms relative to other innovative schools. Julie is an expert in building effective teams, and I learned a TON from her this week. She worked with the team to identify their individual and group strengths; to create high-level norms to guide both processes and relationships; and to move the teachers through the inevitable rough patches of team development to sustainable high performance. By the end of our day and a half with the 6th grade team, they were honestly and earnestly looking forward to her returning to Santa Fe in the near future!
Julie’s workshopping, facilitation, and coaching in building transformational teacher teams would be a powerful addition to any school, district, or association that wants to significantly enhance organizational capacity for change.