The Best Teaming Rubric Out There: How Would You Score Your Team?

Posted
11/19/2016
Jon Konen
School Principal
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What does teaming look like in your school? Making this concrete for teacher teams may be difficult, but let's put it into a rubric. Defining what good "teaming" looks like as a staff is powerful. Mix these criteria with high expectations from administration and you have the tools for a high octane "teaming" engine!

The lack of time is the comment I hear the most frequently when teachers say they don't team. We must encourage, promote, and support teaming as an integral component in student achievement. Teaming also sets the tone for a school's positive culture. Our underlying goal and assumption is that teaming around a student's learning opportunity is vital to the success of a school and a grade level team. We know collectively that multiple minds are better than one! Whether we are a team of two with one teacher and one specialist in a small rural school ("frontier" in Montana), or a pod of grade level teachers in an urban school, we understand the time we put into designing these educational opportunities for our students will definitely pay out in the end.

Great teams combine a mix of activities that support high academic rigor and provide experiences that support cultural team building. These teams understand the strengths and weaknesses of their team members. They learn to capitalize on these areas to ensure they are efficient and effective, and they understand they are only as strong as their weakest members. The following rubric has descriptors that can place your team on a plan for improvement, as well as reinforcing the great work you are already doing! How would you score your team?

Level 0

Your school does not team. You are a team of one! You feel like you are on an island. You may want to team, but there just isn't anyone who wants to work harder than they already do. Others see teaming as just one more thing on their metaphorical "educational plate." Here are some descriptors for this level:

  • No one teams at your school; or if you do someone sabotages the experience.
  • You design all curriculum and learning opportunities on your own; you are not worried about pacing.
  • No one is willing to team with you or they are unware of the benefits of teaming.
  • The school culture doesn't permit, nor allow time to team with anyone else on staff.
  • If you do team, you may think (or your teammates) that you would lose valuable time that could be used grading papers or testing.
  • Teachers may set goals individually and privately.
  • Administration does not see the benefit of teaming and does not speak of it.

Level 1

Your school "teams" at times, but it is infrequent when you meet. You understand that teaming is important, but you don't realize the power of fully utilizing the people on your team. You team infrequently designs learning opportunities for students. Here are some descriptors for this level:

  • Some people team at your school.
  • You design some activities with other teachers, but it is usually for big events. Many events are not directly related to the curriculum, but geared more towards building culture and fun activities tied to holidays.
  • Some times when you meet a few people don't show up because they are busy doing something else.
  • The school culture allows for some teaming; in fact some grade level teams meet more frequently than others.
  • Unfortunately, a lot of other school related tasks will trump the teaming time, thus making it hard to ever team.
  • Teaming conversations are centered on breaking up photocopying jobs, getting supplies ready for a big event, or divvying up jobs for volunteers to support the big event.
  • Teachers don't necessarily share their lesson plans; there are completely different learning experiences going on each room.
  • Some teachers on the team may not get along with each other; but meet because they feel obligated.
  • Some teachers may not show up to the teaming time because they forget or don't want to deal with certain teachers.
  • Teachers and administrators may or may not set goals individually, and they may or may not set goals for the entire school; it is inconsistent from year to year.
  • Administration talks about teaming, but doesn't support the expectation for anyone to actually do it.

Level 2

Your school uses teaming on a regular basis. It may not be an expectation, but teachers understand that it can be a powerful tool for student success. Some teachers meet more frequently, some don't meet at all, but there is visible teaming going on in your school. Administration talks about teaming and they may even find time for your team to meet. Here are some descriptors for this level:

  • Your team meets once a month, maybe even twice, routinely.
  • The administration talks about teaming and the power of teaming frequently.
  • Teachers meet and decide who will do photocopying and other jobs for the upcoming events.
  • Administration may meet with teams once a month to discuss needs of the team, or to check on certain curriculum, instruction, or assessment expectations.
  • Teachers plan learning events based on curriculum routinely; once a month "celebrations of learning" occur.
  • Teachers discuss lesson plans; and they may share them with each other, but there are completely different learning experiences going on in classrooms most of the time.
  • Sometimes teachers discuss student achievement…especially after school wide testing events.
  • Teachers share students sometimes when they teach interventions; some schools use a "walk to reading" or "walk to math" format where students are getting differentiated instruction for a portion of their day and they have to go to a different classroom for that instructional time.
  • Teachers get along with each other most of the time; but there may be visible jealousies or struggles that play out during the school year.
  • Teachers set goals individually and administrators do the goal setting for the entire school with minimal support from the teachers during this process.

Level 3

Teams are part of the school culture. They are used on a weekly basis and communication between teachers and administration on students is frequent. Administration finds ways for teachers to meet on a routine basis.

  • Teachers share students often when they teach interventions; they use a "walk to reading" or "walk to math" format where students are getting differentiated instruction for a portion of their day and they have to go to a different classroom for that instructional time.
  • Teachers meet weekly during a common prep time that has been designed by administration through the school wide schedule, or teachers meet after or before school once a week.
  • Teachers meet and discuss curriculum, instruction, and assessment (C.I.A.) of students.
  • Teachers plan "celebrations of learning" for the parents and the community as much as once a quarter.
  • Teachers get along with each other and understand the strengths and weaknesses among team members.
  • Teachers talk about curriculum, instruction, and assessment of students and may even bring common student products.
  • Teachers share lesson plans weekly, but their plans may have some differences in learning experiences; pacing is discussed.
  • Teachers set goals individually.
  • Administrators do the goal setting for the entire school with support from the teachers.
  • Individual teachers often seek feedback from their colleagues, coaches, or administration.
  • Teaming teachers look for professional development opportunities to support their learning journey.
  • Teaming teachers are self-reflective and frequently adjust C.I.A. from feedback given.
  • Teaming teachers often talk about new and interesting ways to engage students in C.I.A.
  • Teaming teachers understand a student's experience and know that adding too many big activities can cause anxiety for students.
  • Teaming teachers often seek feedback and ask for parental and community support in educational learning opportunities with students.
  • Teaming teachers hold themselves accountable.
  • Teaming teachers often take part in book clubs, share articles and research, and discuss educational best practices.
  • Teaming teachers often create after school learning opportunities (i.e., homework) that are meaningful and respectful to students and their families.
  • Administration finds time through scheduling for teams to meet weekly. They may use a PLC model or use a common planning time where all teachers can meet and talk.
  • Administration often gives the team topics to discuss or cover.
  • Administration often, but not routinely, meets with these teams.
  • Administration may keep track of how often they meet and what was discussed while teaming.

Level 4

The quintessential team is always learning and always evolving. They change with the students they have in their classrooms, use the latest brain research and best practices, and they frequently set short term and long term goals.

  • Teachers share students routinely and flexibly when they teach interventions; they use a "walk to reading" or "walk to math" format where students are getting differentiated instruction for a portion of their day and they have to go to a different classroom for that instructional time.
  • Teachers meet weekly or more often during a common prep time that has been designed by administration through the schoolwide schedule, or teachers meet after or before school once a week.
  • Teachers seek other times to meet through the week because they know how powerful teaming is for the students.
  • Teachers meet and discuss curriculum, instruction, and assessment (C.I.A.) of students.
  • Teachers often bring student products to the meetings to discuss progress; teachers may bring examples of final products that are considered in the following three categories: high, medium, and low. This leads to deeper discussions on C.I.A.
  • Teachers plan "celebrations of learning" for the parents and the community as much as two to three times a quarter.
  • Teachers get along with each other and understand the strengths and weaknesses among team members. They meet outside of school routinely because they know an effective team needs strong collegial relationships (activities often times are non-school related).
  • Teachers share lesson plans weekly and their plans have many similarities in learning experiences and pacing is always discussed.
  • Teachers set goals individually and also support administrators in goal setting for the entire school.
  • Teachers observe their team members teach or plan team teaching opportunities.
  • Teaming teachers routinely request feedback from their colleagues, coaches, administration, and others to improve instruction techniques and strategies.
  • Teaming teachers look for professional development opportunities that not only help them individually, but as a team, also!
  • Teaming teachers are not afraid to take risks when teaching, they are not afraid of failure, nor on the spot problem solving or trouble shooting.
  • Teaming teachers are self-reflective and frequently adjust C.I.A. from feedback given, not only individually, but as a team, too.
  • Teaming teachers routinely take part in book clubs, share articles and research, and discuss educational best practices.
  • Teaming teachers routinely talk about new and interesting ways to engage students in C.I.A.
  • Teaming teachers routinely and proactively seek feedback and ask for parental and community support in educational learning opportunities with students.
  • Teaming teachers routinely create after school learning opportunities (i.e., homework) that are meaningful and respectful to students and their families.
  • Teaming teachers routinely discuss the work load of students and plan "celebrations of learning" events accordingly; they understand that too many events can cause anxiety.
  • Teaming teachers have similar classroom management plans; parents can expect discipline to be handled similarly by the teaming teachers, and also congruently to the whole school.
  • Teaming teachers hold themselves and their team accountable.
  • Administration finds time through scheduling for teams to meet weekly. They may use a PLC model or use a common planning time where all teachers can meet and talk.
  • Administration gives an option to pay teachers to meet outside of the school day.
  • Administration gives an option to teachers in finding substitutes during school days in order for teachers to meet and plan routinely.
  • Often, administration gives the team topics to discuss and provide feedback for future consideration and goal setting.
  • Administration keeps track of how often they meet and what was discussed in the team meetings.
  • Administration routinely meets with these teams and is a contributor to their success.

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Jon Konen

Jon Konen is a father, husband, K-6 elementary principal, and freelance writer in Great Falls, Montana. He has taught most all grade levels K-6, and has been a K-12 principal of a rural school. As a 5th grade teacher in 2010, he won the Presidential Award for Elementary Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST). As a principal, his school won the 2012 Blue Ribbon Award. In 2018, he won the National Distinguished Principal Award (NDP). He is the author of two guides, An Educator's Guide to Combat Bullying & Bully Prevention and Teacher Evaluation: A Transition Guide to Exemplary Performance. He has authored a children's picture book that will be released in October, 2018 titled, Principal Reads and Benjamin's Visit to the Office…Not the First!
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