5 Tips for Grade Level Team Building

This will be the second year I am leader of my team, and let me just say...sometimes it is a very, very hard job! You always have to worry about making everyone happy, you often have to relay unpleasant news from administration or tell everyone more things they just "have to do". Every team is different and some teams collaborate better than others, but gone are the days when you can just shut your door and do your own thing. In my school we are strongly encouraged to collaborate on lesson plans, analyze standards and data and working together as a team makes life much easier for all of us. Here are just a few tips I have learned that have helped me and my team:
Have an efficient process for your meetings and stick with it. Our team has agreed upon Norms for our meetings. If your team has not set Norms, you really should think about doing this! Here is a great article to read about setting norms for your group. Here are what the norms for my grade level look like:
In this way, we ensure that everyone has a voice and no one feels like their opinions are not important.
As I am sure most of your schools have mission and vision statements, take some time to write a mission or vision statement with grade level. Think about what you as a group are working toward. What is the goal of your team?
When we turned our conversations away from ourselves and what we wanted and toward our students and student achievement, we became much more productive. 
Our team tries to focus the majority of our meeting time on analyzing a standard or analyzing student data. We can then take that information to drive our instruction.
This one is huge! Last year, we had a new team member who was always late and calling in sick. This put so much stress on our team because we had to pick up the slack for her, helping her substitutes, watching her class etc. Be the team member  you would want to have. Be there to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on, but just make sure you are not the one relying on your teammates too much! But most importantly be there for each other in those life trials....this is what our friends are for and we couldn't imagine how we could get through this job without them!                                                                         
I don't care how you do it....Happy Hour, Birthday Buddies, Secret Pals or eating lunch together. My team does Secret Sisters, we give little gifts each month and then we revel at the end of the year. It is so fun because you think you know who your Secret Sister is, but then you are really surprised at the end! 

Take time to be nice to each other and celebrate the little and BIG things in life together. Being a team that works well together can make everyone's life so much better!

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