Educators are collaborating within Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in schools and districts across the state of Texas. In doing so, they are putting in place practices aligned to the Vision. And, as a result of this “better together” mentality, students are reaping the benefits as their teachers focus on a shared commitment to learning for all.
Investing in the Culture for our Teams of Teachers
In order for our teams of teachers to work together, based on a shared commitment to learning, there must exist a healthy, productive culture that is conducive of trust and collaboration. This culture is not achieved by chance, nor does it come as a result of some one time team building activity. This culture is the result of an investment of time and attention to structures of accountability held by all members of the team.
As a leader, think beyond surface-level get-to-know-you activities that aim to find commonalities between team members. Rather, seek to build confidence in character and competence as educators, as Covey describes, in order to cultivate trust. Look toward building an environment of collegial appreciation for each of the team members’ personal and professional contributions.
In her book, The Art of Coaching Teams, Elena Aguilar shares a lengthy list of community-building activities along with descriptions and tips for success. One such activity is called Compass Points. Consider this as a way for team members to begin to build empathy and understanding of one another as they select a compass point to best describe preferences in group work.
Also, as a leader, recognize that building the team culture is not a one time achievement. Rather, culture is build over time, always growing and improving – especially as new team members are on-boarded. Model trustworthiness, embrace it within members of your team, and monitor it regularly. Beware, though, that there will be times when trust is challenged, compromised, and questioned. Healthy, productive teams are prepared to handle these situations and are able to not only bounce back from them, but also grow stronger together as a result.
Covey, S. The Speed of Trust. New York, NY: Free Press, 2006.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to share more tools to support the work of teachers as members of professional learning communities and the potential outcome: high levels of learning for all students.
More information about supporting professional learning communities can be found here:
The Art of Coaching Teams, by Elena Aguilar