We had our first official ITRT meeting this past Friday. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as a newbie, but I left feeling energized and excited for the upcoming school year! We spent most of the day building relationships (we had to prepare a short presentation on our summer, did introductions, ate lunch with our mentors, etc.), discussing what it takes to be a highly effective team and what our norms should be for the year.
A few members of the team went to the Learning Forward conference this summer and came away with a great activity for assessing and building highly effective teams.
For the first part of the activity, each person gets 6 index cards (1 blue, 5 white). Each of us had to pick a highly effective team that we had been on – it could be anything: high school basketball team, family, grade level team, band, etc. Write that team down on the blue index card and set it to the side. Next, write characteristics that made that team effective (one per card). After everyone has reflected individually, we got together in small groups of 3-4 people. Each group created a list of traits; if it was listed more than once, we put a check next to the term to show frequency. We shared out as a whole group to hear what people came up with. Some of the characteristics we came up with: dedication/commitment, trust, respect, communication, good leadership, shared vision/goals, congenial relationships, fun, shared accountability.
We took a short break while the leaders of the activity wrote each of those characteristics on a separate piece of paper. They hung them around the room. Our next task was for each of us to put 5 blue stickers on our top 5 necessary traits of a highly effective team. It was interesting to see where people placed value/didn’t place value. We had a great discussion about why we put our stickers where we did. The last part was to evaluate our ITRT team by putting a red, yellow or green sticker with each trait. Red = we aren’t good at it, yellow = it needs some work, green = we are doing this well. As a new team member, it was great to see how the team perceived themselves. I still had to rank them, but just based on what I had observed thus far (which was rather difficult). This was an effective way to assess where we are as a team, and what we really need to focus on for the coming school year to improve.
This was a wonderful activity that would be easy to replicate with teams you are involved in – school-wide, leadership team, grade-level team. It leads to some excellent discussion about what you do well and, more importantly, areas that need improvement.