Is team work really that important?

Team work is great… err… when it works.

But sometimes professional issues and disagreements arise, such as the referral of a child to a child psychologist or the school’s special needs co-ordinator. These present challenges to the idea of ‘working as part of a school team’.

When teams play well together, they can achieve incredible things. Look only as far as a lower league football team ‘giant-killing’ a top flight Premier League side. Or the amazing achievements of ‘survival against the odds’ of something like the Chilean miners rescue a couple of years ago. Or the incredible orchestration of a surgical team saving the life of a victim of a car accident. Examples abound.

In more mundane circumstances, good team work can have results that go way beyond the sum of individual parts. Even for mere mortals like me, I can achieve more (and I feel better) when I move furniture, do the house-work or wash a pile of dishes… simply by doing it with friends or family.

Sometimes though, team members just don’t ‘gel’ with each other – personalities, egos, individual ambitions and insecurities can take precedence over focusing professionally on the original purpose for which the team was conceived – such as the needs of the ‘client’.

A new teacher recently remarked “Why should my professional values, commitment and expertise be judged on how well I ‘work as part of a team?’  Team work is a good thing, I like it” she said “but I wouldn’t want to suggest a colleague was unprofessional just because they preferred working on their own, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t be considered a good teacher for doing the same”.

I thought this was a good point and it reminded me that many of the best teachers I have ever worked with were rather eccentric, idiosyncratic ‘loners’ who knew their subjects inside out, loved teaching, motivated the kids and got great results – but could never be relied upon to join in the production of a school play, help to organise a sports day or even contribute much to a staff meeting.

Why should team work be part of professionalism in teaching?

Should your teacher professionalism be judged on how good a team-player you are?

Tell me.



2 thoughts on “Is team work really that important?

  1. To an extent I think it should, yes. I believe that my pupils will enjoy their life more, and will be more likely succeed if they learn how to get along with people who they disagree with. The best way to convey the value of this to them is to demonstrate it yourself.

    Nonetheless, I agree with your point about professional differences in opinion. It’s an incredibly tricky area, but shows just how important it is that we should educate our children to be emotionally intelligent. After all, these difficulties are inevitable.

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