Your school may have groups that work together but to have a PLC team needs to be established. There is a difference. Jon Katzenback and Douglas Smith in their work, “The discipline of teams”, defined what a team was: “A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” Look at the differences between groups and teams. Both have positive aspects but the group is still focused on the individual whereas the team is collaborative.
Bruce Tuckman studied group functioning in 1965. He described the four stages of group development.Initial stage is forming. Here group members have concerns about how they fit in. There exists high anxiety and high expectations that effects their initial behaviors. (sort of like a first date) Members test the waters unsure of others and themselves. There is a great need for an authority figure to create structure for them to follow as a point of normalcy. Behaviorally, members can be polite but impersonal, watchful, and guarded in their behavior. The second stage, storming, is where much of the frustration and conflict of the new relationship arises. Rebellious behavior can break out due to the feeling of being influenced by other thoughts or due to the amount of growing work that is needed to complete tasks. Several different reactions may appear based on different personalities: they may leave or compete for the power and/or attention. After issues are resolved, stage 3 is entered and “norming” begins. A feeling of cohesiveness develops along with harmony, trust and support as roles are established. More personal opinions are comfortably expressed. This opens up the ease of more collaborate-like behavior. Agreeing is easier as confrontations take place with work procedures and not other members. As the relationship matures the group can produce smooth work as if it came from one individual or rather a team. True collaboration and interdependence now takes place. Flexibilty, resourcefulness, closeness, and supportiveness now exists.
Ann Delehant, a consultant, that works with school to develop PLCs has transformed Tuckman’s stages of development into a model of community development as defined by M. Scott Peck. Peck likens the first stage of development to early dating and calls it a “psuedo-community”. Here members have fear of differences and conflict. This results in everyone not quite being who they are and pretending to have no major differences. Note: even when a group moves beyond this phase, an entrance of a new member could revert the group to similar behaviours of this initial stage.Chaos is the name for the second stage where struggle does dominate. Feelings of being out of control may arise out of the initial expression of different opinions. Some will try to heal, others will try to convert members, and a few will want to revert to the nice stage. The third stage is called emptiness. As the Hindus say, “Emptiness is form; form is emptiness.” The full sutra is: Form is empty. Emptiness [sunyata] is form. The action [karma] of form is not other than emptiness, nor is the action of emptiness other than form. Of this nature are also feeling, cognition, conception, and consciousness. Peck finds that group members will now remove personal barriers, confront expectations and ideologies, and now listen to the ideas presented by the others. This can lead to teachers regarding the examination of data, collaborate on a common lesson, or even create common assessments. After the barrier is dropped the group can move into the community stage whereby defining the group as a team. Members now feel comfortable and can resolve to work on common problems and issues together.
The Principal plays a very important role. This person has to allow for soon to be team members to spend time on the basics. Truly understanding the team development process, will allow the group to develop to a team. Never should a principal expect members to plunge right in as if they were programmed machines. Time must be give to build trust and relationships. As the keeper of the structure, the principal must also give special recognition to groups, give predictable stages to follow and reassure that conflict is natural.
One of the most important acts a team must accomplish is developing team norms. This will be the structure or the rules by which all members create so that all can follow. By creating rules with a little forethought, a team can avoid a disastrous moment. Choose a good day to conduct this activity for it will take about 2 hours.From the Tools for change workshops by Robby Champion of Oxford, Ohio at the National Staff Development Council in 1993, a set of directions for the activity can be as follows:1. Indicate to the group that effective groups generally have a set of norms that governs individualbehavior, facilitates the work of the group, and enables the group to accomplish its task.2. Recommend to the group that it establish a set of norms:• To ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to contribute in the meeting;• To increase productivity and effectiveness; and• To facilitate the achievement of its goals.3. Give five index cards and the same kind of writing tool to each person in the group.4. Ask each person to reflect on and record behaviors they consider ideal behaviors for a group. Askthem to write one idea on each of their cards. Time: 10 minutes.5. The facilitator should shuffle all the cards together. Every effort should be made to provideanonymity for individuals, especially if the group has worked together before.6. Turn cards face up and read each card aloud. Allow time for the group members to discuss eachidea. Tape or tack each card to a display board so that all group members can see it. As eachsubsequent card is read aloud, ask the group to determine if it is similar to another idea thatalready has been expressed. Cards with similar ideas should be grouped together.7. When all of the cards have been sorted into groups, ask the group to write the norm suggested bythat group of cards. Have one group member record these new norms onto a large sheet of paper.8. Review the proposed norms with the group. Determine whether the group can support the normsbefore the group adopts them.
As groups are assembled and all have accepted that they are a professional learning community, you may wonder how to more objectively to configure what stage of development your group has achieved. Questionnaires can make this task easy. At the following link you find such an activity. There are 32 questions . Each have to be ranked. At the end there is a scoring guide for a facilitator to use in analyzing. OBJECTIVESTo identify the present stage of the teamwork model that your team is presently operating in.DIRECTIONSThis questionnaire contains statements about teamwork. Next to each question, indicate howoften your team displays each behavior by using the following scoring system:1 = Almost never 2 = Seldom 3 = Occasionally 4 = Frequently 5 = Almost al
All five components of the REACH model are naturally found in building professional learning communities. All of these characteristics of a risk-taker are found in members who stay with the PLC and develop from a group to a team. For example, risk-takers seek challenges, create new processes, and try new things. A risk-taker will relish change, pursue professional growth, shake up the system, identify & solidify mission statements, as well as, norms. Characteristics of a risk-taker are a take-charge attitude, confident, and have a high self-esteem. They will suspend gratification and be persistent during different tasks. Dissenters of the team will revert back to isolationism , resist change, and not accept any new challenges.PLC’s exhibit characteristics of effectiveness. Team members work together for the benefit of the student. In order to work effectively with many others, one will have to listen, empathize, be flexible, and accommodate the whole. There is a continued awareness that there is an interrelationship of the various subjects and educational practices as decisions are made. Without collegiality a team could not exist. Conflict management skills will be needed to move out of the second phase of chaos. Also, members will need the ability to establish trust. Finally, they will have an orientation towards the good of the entire organization. Autonomy is the whole idea of a PLC. There is no “I” in team. Strong personal character as well as giving respect are both strengths of a PLC and belong to the Honor aspect of teacher-leaders. Also needed are characteristics of integrity , honesty, andprofessional ethics.
Professional Learning Communities: Transforming Groups into Teams
Professional Learning Communities<br />Transform your group into a team! by Joan Richardson<br /> Reviewed by J. Polakovsky<br />
The Big Question<br />How do you move from being a group of people with a common characteristic — such as teaching the same subject or grade level — to being a team or a community with a common vision and focus?<br />“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” – John Donne<br />Professional learning community is the new name for team.<br />
PLC is a Team with an Intentional Focus on Learning<br />Devote time for group team development<br />Spend time on the basics<br />Four stages of group development<br />Forming<br />Norming<br />Storming<br />Performing<br />
Updating the Team Development Wheel<br />Community Development- the making of a team<br />Pseudo-community<br />Chaos<br />Emptiness<br />Community<br />
The Principal’s Role<br />Spend time on basics<br />Understand the team development process<br />Give time to conversations about “how to do the work”<br />Avoid plunging in<br />Time must be given to trust and relationship building<br />Realize that every group feels special<br />Groups need predictable stages<br />Groups need to know that conflict is natural.<br />
Developing Norms<br />Teams need to create norms by which all will abide.<br />An activity enables groups to develop these ground rules.<br />Often making task an anonymous one ensures ideas are expressed freely.<br />Supplies can range from same type of pens, index cards, poster paper, display board, tape and tacks. <br />Task should take a total of two hours.<br />Post Norms in the teaming room<br />
An Example<br />We will work together as a community that values consensus rather than majority rule.<br />We will be fully present at the meeting by becoming familiar with materials before we arrive and by being attentive to behaviors which affect physical and mental engagement.<br />We will invite and welcome the contributions of every member and listen to each other.<br />We will be involved to our individual level of comfort. Each of us is responsible for airing disagreements during the meeting rather than carrying those disagreements outside the meeting.<br />
Which stage is your team in? Use a questionnaire.<br />Questionnaires contain statements about teamwork at the various levels.<br />Rank each question from “Almost Never” to “Almost Always”<br />The following link will lead you to 32 good questions and to what stage each belongs for scoring purposes.:<br />At What Stage is Your Team? Questionnaire<br />
R.E.A.C.H.<br />Risk-Takers building a PLC take an adjustment of thought, procedures and time. Major changes will have to occur. <br />Effectiveness develops after the team is created and plans can be enacted. <br />Autonomy is not being that island unto oneself but rather displaying independent thought responsibly. This initiative adds to the strength of the group.<br />Collegiality is a promotion of community.<br />Honor is displayed by treating others with respect and dignity<br />
Food for Thought<br />No one of us can be effective as all of us. Unknown<br />
Build with your team a feeling of oneness, of dependence on one another, and of strength derived from unity in the pursuit of your objective.<br />–Vince Lombardi<br />
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; and working together is success.<br />Henry Ford<br />
Resources<br />Richardson, Joan. Transform Your Group into a TEAM, Tools for Schools, Vol. 9, No. 2,November/December 2005. http://www.nsdc.org/members/tools/tools11-05.pdf<br />Merideth, Eunice. Leadership Strategies for Teachers, 2nd ed. Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, CA. 2007.<br />Heart Sutra http://www.silcom.com/~eclarson/heartsutra/hs-ra/hs06.html<br />