For Effective Schools, Teamwork Is Not Optional
Teachers themselves are the most valuable resource available to them. Unfortunately, teamwork and collaboration are not commonplace in educational settings. I understand how it works because I have been a teacher for almost 20 years.
It is difficult and stressful work for teachers, and one of the factors that contribute to their level of difficulty and stress is the inclination for teachers to isolate themselves. How many teachers seal their doors and believe they are fighting an uphill struggle against ignorance and apathy, as well as paperwork and standardized testing, all by themselves?
Isolation Is Not Effective
My first year as a high school literature teacher was a memorable experience. That is exactly what I did, to begin with: I adopted the habits of preparing alone and working alone. I was a lonely superhero who returned home fatigued after each day’s work because I had no encouragement or support from my more experienced colleagues. I was standing right next to people who could have provided me with answers and suggestions that would have been beneficial, but I was too self-conscious to ask for them.
It was only through the kindness and compassion of a couple of seasoned instructors from my department that I was able to realize what I had been losing out on all these years. They approached me intending to provide uninvited aid, forge a connection, and share a few heartwarming anecdotes with me. My first assumption was that I would be more productive while planning and working alone; but, I soon discovered that when dealing with others, being efficient is rarely synonymous with being truly effective. It took a long time for me to discover that if I was willing to share ideas, ask for help, and rely on people, I could do more and be far more productive and enthusiastic than if I kept my mouth shut.
As a young teacher, the experience of engaging with other teachers and exchanging ideas throughout the year had a profound impact on me and my professional development. Over the years, it has inspired me to share my experiences with and reach out to those who I felt may benefit from my thoughts and ideas. I realized that teachers have a long history of locking doors and doing things their way — and that the isolated nature of teaching made it even more critical that teachers have the time and incentives to collaborate.
Building Meaningful Connections
Making Meaningful Connections is an ongoing process.
Having the title of professional does not imply that you can operate alone. On the contrary, specialists from virtually every other industry are obliged to collaborate to increase performance. Professionals that achieve success in their fields rely on and share ideas with others in their area, whether they be airline pilots, psychologists, or salespeople.
Teacher isolation can be divided into two types: social and professional.
Egg-crate isolation is the term I use to describe the type of isolation that occurs as a result of the physical architecture of school buildings. Egg-crate isolation is the outcome of physical separation, in which teachers have limited touch with their colleagues and feel as though they lack a support system of their own. To alleviate this feeling, school administrations should provide teachers with the time and opportunity to talk and plan together, as well as to share laughter, encouragement, and ideas. Instead of being tucked neatly away in separate rooms all of the time, school administrations should provide teachers with the time and opportunity to talk and plan together.
An avalanche of isolation occurs when teachers become overwhelmed by their everyday responsibilities, which include things like serving lunch duty, grading papers, making copies, attending meetings, learning new tactics, communicating with parents, and the countless other items on their to-do list. The most effective strategy to alleviate this type of isolation is to concentrate on eliminating egg-crate isolation.
The most effective strategy to alleviate workplace stress is to assist your employees in developing meaningful relationships and feeling like they are a valuable part of something greater than themselves. Administrations must set out time and emphasize the importance of teacher partnership to create that kind of culture, rather than merely assuming that it would happen on its own.
Consider mandating that your team spend just 30 minutes every week in which one teacher can share a creative lesson plan or in which every teacher needs to discuss his or her most troublesome issue with the rest of the staff. These discussions open the door to the sharing of encouragement and insights, as well as the development of the empathy that underpins all outstanding organizations.
If your school staff needs to share a few laughs, a day of teacher team building can serve as a powerful catalyst to enhance interactions, raise morale, and promote a collaborative culture. To be successful, schools must function as a team.
Administrations that are effective guarantee that instructors can collaborate on planning, sharing ideas, and providing support to one another. The benefits of collaboration will be appreciated by educators once they have experienced the camaraderie and creativity that it brings about.