Thursday, 27 March 2008

Team work - a fantastic way of working

A great Ministry of Education team: Louis Payne (Head of Corporate Communications), (hidden from view: Vaughan Carter, Deputy Chief Officer), Hon. Alden McLaughlin (Minister of Education), Gina Matthews (Assistant Head of Corporate Communications), and Angela Martins (Chief Officer / Permanent Secretary). Missing from the picture? ME - I took the photo!!
As I reflected on my work and work styles over the past week or two, I considered how so much of the really creative, exploratory and detailed work is done in a variety of team situations.

Most people know that a well constructed team working together can produce fantastic, original ideas, push boundaries, include checks and balances and give opposing views. I particularly enjoy exploring options through suggesting 'out of the box' ideas and then playing the 'devils advocate' whilst considering implications and alternatives. The beauty of this team approach is other group members bring their own experise and we all extend our own thinking much further than we expect and, of course, we all learn and develop during the process. This blog reflects just a small number of the groups I work within.

The result is nearly always a well considered researched decision with a variety of implications and consequences of any idea identified. Few people would disagree with this approach, no matter what job or role they have. We all also know that the 'my way is the only way' approach is usually least reliable or useful.

If we think that most people know this, why do I still meet and talk to so many teachers from all over the world that don't like or encourage students to work in this, or many other way? I get SO disappointed when I go to classrooms, with rows consistently facing the front where students have few options but to work individually. A class full of students will have so many preferred learning styles within it - and teachers working in this way inhibit or worse totally prevent them learning ... with the resulting negative impact and commitment.

Just recently a teacher said that they could not even think about trying a new approach to teaching as they had one specific class that was "so bad" that they couldn't even think about doing anything different - even though what they were doing was not, and never had, engaged the students. So they were just going to keep on doing more of what was not working, failing the students and themselves - a continuing downward spiral for all concerned. (NB: the same group of students worked well for another teacher using a vartiety of teaching styles!)

Even worse, many of the same teachers insist on group planning and discussion - if it's the best way for them, why isn't it good enough for their students?

No comments: