A quick disclaimer, It’s really ‘tricky’ to think back and reflect over the last year and try to articulate the complexity of how areas of my desired reality have changed to my current reality. There are layers of decisions/interactions/thoughts that have been a part of the journey this year.
The contributing factors that have led to Teamwork
Team – ‘a group of people linked to a common purpose’
Quite quickly from the beginning of the year I realised that the leadership role in our shared spaces was going to be very different from probably anything education has had in the past decade! Being in our shared and open environment really challenged me to think about how to be an effective leader for the team and move towards my desired reality focus of
‘ developing a team and contributing to a team. ’
I can remember starting the year sharing modern learning practice and ways that we could try a variety of models of teaching for our new spaces. I wanted to lead the team with transformative approaches and I really underestimated the challenge that this brings to everyone, especially a new team. It was really evident that it wasn’t a case of trying new strategies but abandoning the old safe ways of doing things.
John West-Burnham sums it up nicely,
‘change involves loss and for many people this will be emotional.’
I soon realised that I was way off the mark trying to push forward with new pedagogical approaches before building a team as I had assumed equal levels of commitment, aptitude and thresholds (Buist) 2015.
After daily observations, readings and thinking time (usually around 2am in the morning) I then changed the focus towards a shared understanding of collaboration. My role in doing this had also changed and I felt that the team would need to build this slowly so that they owned the process. It certainly isn’t something that you can tell people and manage it ….‘ right team, this is how collaboration works from now.’
‘The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued. Ken Robinson‘
I needed to also change my role to become more of a facilitator – a new challenge in leadership as was modelled very strongly from the senior leadership team from the very start. This meant I needed to think and develop strategies and processes and behavioural norms in which this way of working together can be promoted.
I read a quote ‘the whole being more of the sum of the parts’ summed it up quite nicely.
We, the group, needed to learn our new role – their right to inclusion and participation by building an environment of trust, respect and honesty.
Important understandings on this journey
– personal dignity of each member is respected
– identity is valued and honoured
– a sense of ownership by the group for decisions and outcomes
Not only was this change in leadership new for me but I could see that it was also a change for each member of our group. Over the year, I found out the types of leadership that members of the team had been used to for years had been a mixture of negative, didactic, and overpowering styles. Another wall I would have to break down over time.
Team meetings were a place I started to unpack some core elements over time –
- asking open questions that encouraged participation
- giving feedback through paraphrasing to confirm understanding
- summarising and synthesising to encourage discussion to move forward
- testing understanding across the group
- ensuring the group and individuals recognise, appreciates, celebrates contributions.
- reflecting on meetings and learning
- establishing working routines and reflecting on them constantly
The do’s for the future are to continue to build capacity by showing norms in our environment such as being incredibly adaptable, allowing silence, encouraging reflection, sharing leadership, making assumptions explicit and modelling ethical behaviour.
‘Artificial culture is paint. Real culture is patina (Rework)
One of the most integral parts to the shift in teaming or teamwork at Shotover Primary has been having an expectation of ‘Professionalism from the start. Having this clear understanding and focus is a strong foundation for developing a rich culture. It’s been clearly modelled from the Senior Leadership Team which has had a flow-on effect for all.
The quote from the book ‘Rework’ which says
‘Culture is the by-product of consistent behaviour’
really made reflect on my role in the contribution to the culture of the school and an effective team. By encouraging each member to share then that is becoming our culture. Same can be said for many areas of our SPS professionalism values. Encourage and model to make it a ‘norm.’ This year I’ve tried to develop teamwork within my team by encouraging/modelling professionalism at SPS. Professionalism also involves all members of our community, students, parents, other mentors and any guests and that visit the school. Encouraging mentors to share their ideas and that these ideas genuinely valued. Part of building relationships has been developing trust and that you’ve got each others back, crucial in our environment.
Professionalism will be an area to constantly reflect on as a team. We talked about the need for reflection through times of stress and pressure as this is the most important to time to be aware of how we can best support each other and check each other in. Everyone agreed that it’s one of the most important elements to our environment and it’s a great place to work when you uphold these values.
Thinking preferences of individuals, teams, and organizations (Herrmann Brain Dominance
This has been also an integral part to the development of teamwork and moving towards my desired reality. It has given our team an understanding of each other from an early part of our journey together. For my role, it has helped me to use each member strengths and to grow them in the other areas that have been identified from the test. It’s been rewarding to see all members grow and develop this year.
I’m coached in many ways and by many people but I’ve been really supported this year by my immediate coach. This has been another contributing factor to building strong teamwork. I can share ideas, get advice, be open and honest and know that I can be open in a trusting relationship. I’ve grown so much from being challenged in my thinking. I can ask for areas to develop and not feel like it’s going to affect my appraisal or a take a dint on how I’m perceived to perform. Our professional relationship is all about growing and changing me for the better as a leader.