Session 61 – Thursday 1st September 2011

I was lucky to be asked by Bill Lord  (@joga5) if I would cover his UKedchat session this week which meant that I effectively topped and tailed the UK school holidays with UKedchat discussions having done one back in July. The topic was: ‘How do you build (or mould) a new team at the start of a new academic year?’ There was certainly no shortage of top-notch contributions from some wise and experienced educators as the discussion moved through some interesting phases.

Early contributions tended to focus on initial tips for those first days back at school together as a team, often without the children and devoted to INSET. HeadteacherRachel Orr described in a flurry of tweets how important it is to enjoy laughter and happiness in fun team-bonding games. Rachel wasn’t the only one identifying the importance of happiness and well-being amongst colleagues as key factors in successful teams. Also important at the beginning of the school year is the sharing of school/department vision and clear/effective channels of communication are key to this, as are inspiring and supportive leaders. These leaders recognize the importance of everyone’s contribution and promote and value the views of all team members.

Another key theme that emerged was around team meetings. Many people recognised the importance of focused, meaningful meetings with the needs of learners very much at their heart. Useful suggestions included rotating the chair of meetings as well holding meetings in a different classroom each week.

Discussion also turned to strategies for turning around difficult teams and dealing with negative/blocking colleagues (although ‘passive’ or nodding non-implementers were seen by some as more of a challenge). On the whole, it seems that many would ensure that conflicting views or intransigent people needed to have their views heard and aired (possibly pre-emptively in advance) so that they could be discussed and challenged.

Finally, we should never underestimate the power of food, most notably, cake!

Please make a point of visiting the full summary/archive as it is rich in excellent contributions too numerous to include here.

Here are some of the more notable tweets:
@RachelOrr so……….. one task was to create a set of clothes for the man using only newspaper and cellotape.
@ristuart Friendly, supportive & collaborative ethos moulded me: very sociable office, always chatting, swapping ideas, advice & reassurance
@mean_Teacher
: Cake, encouragement, setting expectations and setting a good example…. note, cake was first
@teachertoolkit
 the absolute priority is to make clear to the team, the department vision, your vision & the expectations of each pp This works!
@deputymitchell
 Happiness is very important! Happy staff glow like readybreak! The children start to glow too!!
@learningspy
 Also important to develop a culture where everyone is happy to observe and be observed
@emteaches
 It is vital that EVERY staff member feels part of a shared vision with the children at the centre. Communication is vital
@aiddy
 eat together
@geekpeter
 Treat your pupils the same as your staff – respect them, praise when they do well, tackle them when they don’t!
@petejeffreys
 Recognise that all team members, old/new, in/experienced, loud/quiet all have a unique perspective to bring to the table. Listen!
@mattfothergill
 A happy team/staffroom comes from the HT. They are pivotal to creating a pleasant atmosphere at school.
@consultanthead
 Start sentences with I’m really happy that or I’m so pleased that and remember to use the word we a lot
@andygfarsley
 each teacher shares good practice at start of each staff meet – been amazing how FS prac can convert to KS2 prac and vice versa
@stephenlev
 Turning round a team needs honesty. To each other, about each other. Including management. Share the problems, own the solutions
@rachelorr
 we have staff meetings in each other’s classrooms – time to celebrate children’s work and teachers’ efforts too
@richard_james
 quickly learn individuals strong points and promote encourage praise and recognise their impact in the team
@consultanthead
 Don’t always meet weekly – cancel a few meetings and save up the time to have longer together and really thrash out some ideas
@jodieworld
 I like to prewarn blockers or ask them to help me with something before main meeting so they on board already
@shelibb
 having staff meet in diff classrooms can create good opps to praise other’s efforts, displays etc #ukedchat – v positive
@creativeEdu
 My rule of thumb is NEVER ask a member of your team to do something you couldn’t / wouldn’t do yourself…
@mattbuxton10
 Negative Brainstorming grt technique; list actions 2 make things worse, then plan 2do the opposite – harness blockers negativity!!

Tweet of the week
For the sheer volume of retweets that it received if nothing else:
@mattbuxton
 Never use the phrase ‘We need to do this in case Ofsted come in’; either do it because its worth doing, or don’t bother??

 Highlighted links
131 tips for new teachers http://ht.ly/6iZrS
Thoughts form @johnsayers http://t.co/NzOrjl8
Maintaining staff well-being under pressure: http://t.co/1Xd9R7t
Email charter: http://emailcharter.org/

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