Smells Like Team Spirit

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by KinderCowgirl, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jul 8, 2010

    So I have a meeting with my new team next week. I am really excited to loop up with my class this year! :D The others, how should I put this...are a little less than enthused for the upcoming year. This grade level has had a high number of retainees the past few years and very low test scores-this year has to be different!

    We had a meeting before the end of the year and it didn't go as well as I had hoped-the attitudes were just so negative. They are full of excuses: it's the kids, it's the parents, it's the teachers from the previous year who didn't teach them anything (which by the way, I'm one of). The one with the least experience-just finishing her 2nd year (and wanted to meet somewhere that served drinks :eek:) said there was nothing she would change about her teaching-she's done everything she can! I don't think I will ever get to a point where I don't go home every day thinking about what I can do better-so I don't understand that belief-especially when the numbers are just so dismal. I didn't want to seem argumentative and push it; but what they are doing is just not working--I know it's really a fine line.

    I'm the grade chair-so leading this meeting next week. You guys always have such advice :help:-how can I turn the tone more positive? How do I TACTFULLY get them geared up to work harder next year in order to better serve these kids without sounding like the annoying cheerleader who just gets a bunch of :rolleyes:? Oh, and I do have supportive admin-I just don't want to get them involved until I have to, you know.
     
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  3. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Jul 8, 2010

    Lead by example. Plain and simple. I have a very negative team as well, and up until this past year, it was so, so tough to get them to alter anything they were doing. But I spent two years being nothing but helpful, positive, and energetic. I would share things I tried, but also (and this is REALLY important) would go to others for ideas. I would simply pop into a teacher's room and tell them about something I was having trouble with, and ask them for advice or help. I could always tell they were flattered that I asked them, and they would always be willing to brainstorm with me. It took awhile, but eventually they saw that I was working hard for the kids and things came around. Try not to tell them to change, though. That will only create resistance. Just BE the change. Teach the way you know is best, and do little things to earn their trust and respect. You can do it! ;)
     
  4. melissa803

    melissa803 Comrade

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    Jul 8, 2010

    Have chocolate at your meetings! I'm only half joking. I worked with someone who'd buy candy or a snack sometimes when she led meetings and I think it sent the message that she was thinking about us/the meeting.

    Also the most helpful person I worked with my first year teaching would walk by my classroom and drop off something she was doing that week that was a good idea. It just set a tone of sharing.
     
  5. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Jul 8, 2010

    You will not be able to change their mindset at all until they trust you. Otherwise, it will backfire. And trust will take some time, it doesn't happen overnight.

    So, realize upfront that this will not happen quickly. By the end of the school year, you may see some results but it will take quite a while.

    Begin with food, chocolate, etc., like a previous poster suggested. It will lighten the mood at the meetings. Befriend them, don't judge them (even though it may be easy too).

    Lead discussions around what can be changed and what cannot be changed. For instance, can we change who their parents are, can we change who their teacher was last year, can we change the fact they didn't go to preschool, etc., etc? No, we cannot. But, can we change our strategies, approaches, belief systems, etc.? Yes, we can.

    You want to speak to the issue, not to the people. And, again, until you have mutual trust among you, it won't happen.
     
  6. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Jul 8, 2010

    Great advice above...I would only add that it might help to start with the positives - something along the lines of... "Around this table we have ____ years of experience working with children. How can we make all of this experience work for us?" Maybe you can get them to focus on the positives first - what does work and what is this team good at? Implementing new instructional techniques? Delivering high-quality instruction with fidelity? Meeting the needs of high ability students? Planning interventions for those students who struggle?

    I'm not sure how big this team is, and whether or not you are all looping. Could you divide and conquer if it is a large team? Find the one or two who excel in teaching phonics or phonemic awareness and have them tell how they are able to achieve success. Find the one who manages literacy stations or work centers well...find the one who has great ideas for differentiating instruction...

    I guess what I am saying is that while it might be tempting to want to go in and reinvent the entire grade level, capitalize on what is working well and use that as a starting point to initiate some changes to make other areas work... (it's late for me, not sure if I am making any sense or not)
     
  7. hawkteacher

    hawkteacher Comrade

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    Jul 8, 2010

    I agree with all of the awesome advice above. One thing I was thinking about is the fact that you are new to their team and already put into a leadership position - these are two things that initially might work against you. If you come in with this big plan to change everything and tell them that everything they've done is wrong, it's not going to go well. Approach them as a new member wanting to learn from their expertise about what works well for them (I hope there's something!). Then, once you've done that, they might be more open to hearing your suggestions to help some of the area's they feel are less successful. See if you can set a goal as a team to improve one thing, then go from there. Best of luck to you!
     
  8. katrinkakat

    katrinkakat Connoisseur

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    Jul 9, 2010

    Just wanted to say good luck Kindercowgirl! I am teaching Kinder so far, but if the numbers are low, will be moved up to first. The first grade team at my school are a VERY negative bunch and I will be in the same boat as you. Great advice above and I will just add that I would be myself, don't fall into their negativity, and they will come around one day. In the meantime, enjoy your wonderful K students that are looping with you! :)
     
  9. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jul 9, 2010

    Thank you so much for your responses! Great advice, as usual and yes, tgim it makes sense!

    I know things won't change overnight (which will be frustrating for me-just because I want the kids to be given the chance to be successful) :), but I'll handle it professionally. A lot of the changes will come from the admin, we will just have to implement them-and they can complain all they want to about that-but it's not something I'm going to join in with. I do bake a lot, so bringing food to meetings won't be a problem. I also ordered tote bags that say "First Grade Rocks" for each of them which I'll give out as kind of good luck the first week.

    But I will stay positive and we'll try to map out a plan that everyone can jump on board with. Thanks again guys!:thanks: You're the best!
     

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