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?