This week I've been thinking a lot about what makes teams effective since I just came out of a couple of work related events in which there was brainstorming, listening, collaborating, reflecting, and more.
Yes, I've read articles, blogs, and some video clips over time, but most importantly to me, I have experienced effective teamwork.
When I think of the teams I've worked in, they have been pretty diverse.
Here are some teams I've worked with throughout my career:
- grade teams
- magnet leadership team
- school leadership team
- EdDesign team
- conference session planning teams
- mentorship planning team
- consultant teams
You can relate, right?
Now... were all these teams as effective and efficient as the previous or next listed? Of course... but they all offered me some sort of learning experience.
Here are 5 things I learned working on teams:
1. More people does not equal a better team.
2. Diverse perspectives matter a lot.
3. It is possible that the process or action steps will shift but the goal remains the same.
4. It is hard to maneuver personalities and styles.
5. Teamwork is necessary and a lot of ... fun.
Here are 5 things that I know make teams effective and efficient:
1. Having a shared vision, purpose, idea, and/or goal AND routinely check in to ensure you are on track.
2. Finding the right people. People that can feel like a natural fit make it easy to follow the path to meet your goal, but make sure you include people with different views. Think outside the box and zero in on people's natural strengths.
3. Delegating. This is why we have teams! We are not meant to do everything ourselves. Delegating means shorter to-do lists for each member of the team.
4. Trusting each other. Active listening and reflecting together build trust in the process and each other.
5. Keeping things simple and clear. It's easy to get muddled in tasks and creation, but if you keep your goal or purpose aligned with your top priorities, you can stay focused. Simple doesn't mean easy or less thoughtful, it means the opposite. It means you've spent the time to think through your needs and purpose, and the best path to achieve your goal.
If you are struggling in a team, think about the above points to see what stands out and ask yourself what it is that doesn't seem right. From there, make a plan to check in with your team. This list is not exhaustive, but it can get you started and help with getting your team on the right track.
This week I went back into the classroom. Not my own classroom though. It's a rented space of sorts.
I'm subbing for a couple of weeks as their year begins, which has been both so much fun ... and also so draining.
As I was preparing for this week, I began thinking about all the responsibilities I used to have at the start of a school year when I taught full-time, and I wondered - how in the heck did I not curl up into a ball and cry each year?
All I was doing to prepare for this two-week teaching stint was read through some plans, get to know some language, and get my mental bearings in a track to prepare to be ON all day. I was anticipating that rude awakening of what in-person teaching and planning was going to be like again.
Now that I'm a few days in, I'm back on track like I hadn't been out of the classroom for a year and a half. All the teaching things just happen naturally in a some way or another, like riding the bike or driving. You don't forget, you just do. I don't think you ever really lose your knack for teaching once you become immersed back into it. But that sense of overwhelm was real. It had me really appreciating teachers more than I ever have, because honestly, right now, they are pulling off some superhero stuff right now.
While I'm thankful I get to be in this new space to support the sweetest kids at the start of their school year, I do wonder how I managed all those full-time years.... actually - I DO know why I didn't curl up in a ball every year (well, maybe one or two)... It's because I got to teach all these sweet (and saucy) kids over the years. Each a special person in their own way. And because I still get to be a part of student's lives and their learning journeys - that gives me energy to see past some of that overwhelm, to what enjoy the best part of teaching.