August 2, 2013

#BeachWeek2013 - Making Them All Fit

One of the many joys of traveling across the country with your extended family is that family members like to jockey for position in which vehicle they want to ride in and more importantly who they want to ride with.  This is a carefully choreographed dance as it is easy to step on someone's toes and next thing you know, Grandma is offended and doesn't send you a birthday card.  It usually takes a few hours before the kids determine who they want to ride with, or at least figure out who they just can't tolerate any longer.  It takes a little time for the adults to consider that as well.  So, usually by the first bathroom break, seating arrangements begin to take shape. Now, these arrangements don't always last, depending on who is a sore loser on the license plate game, who is tired of listening to the audiobook, or who isn't sharing the iPad.  So, at times, the parents need to step in and decide who will ride where and with who.

So what's the connection?  Quite often building principals face a similar situation.  No, the teachers don't usually fight over an iPad or who is winning in the fewest students tardy award, but it's not uncommon to have teams within schools that are not working well together.   Sometimes, there is such bad blood, that it is best to split team members up and see if the new mix helps heal teams and even broken relationships so that staff members can become friends even while not being on the same department or grade level team.  Sure, you would obviously want to try to help team members work through problems first, see what can be done to make the team work well together, but sometimes......well, things just don't work out.  Sometimes there is a strong team that has developed more than one strong leader.  The team itself is great and works well together, but you have another team that is need of a leader that knows how to work as a team, that's focused on student learning and knows how to use the data. I know my friend Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) may disagree and he explains why pretty well in his book (p.16), "Making Teamwork Meaningful" written with Parry Graham and Matt Wight, but he also shares why it may be necessary.

The sad thing is, sometimes co-workers see these switches in staffing as disciplinary in nature, when the overwhelming majority of them are not.  Sure, there are probably building leaders that use staffing changes as a disciplinary tool.  It's not a practice quality leaders will use though, as it is often transparent when it is used that way.  What we should be looking for, is to work in a highly effective team.  There is security in being able to rely and trust in your team.  To know they have your back and that they trust that you have theirs.  That may take a large cultural shift, but that starts with leaders and grows by having effective teams.  Besides, too much yelling from the backseat gets really annoying to the driver......but that sounds like a different post.

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