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Building Teams Transcript

Transcript of the video presented by the California Department of Education.

The following is a text transcript of the Building Teams video, as presented by the Improvement and Accountability Division of the California Department of Education.

Video Starts

Welcome to the Quality Schooling Framework—also called the QSF. The California Department of Education developed the QSF to assist educators as they work to ensure that the students in their schools learn and thrive. This video will discuss guidelines for building teams with a clear, specific focus on student learning and accomplishing intended outcomes.

Building strong leadership teams within a district, school or department is crucial to prepare and to support the implementation of new plans and initiatives. These teams, representing the district community, are the key planners and communicators for change.

When identifying potential members for the team, follow a transparent selection process with clear criteria. Consider individuals for this team who can champion the group’s decisions enthusiastically and commit:

  • Relevant experience and subject expertise,
  • School-wide and classroom perspectives—if it is needed,
  • Facilitation and other group skills—such as note-taking,
  • Time and energy,
  • Strong stakeholder relationships,
  • Critical and constructive views, and
  • Ideas to advance student learning outcomes.

Having a diverse mix of people ensures that different and innovative perspectives are considered. And having teams with individuals who possess diverse strengths can directly impact outcomes for students.

Once the team has been selected, clearly establish the team’s role and essential purpose. Communicate to the members whether they are part of one of several work groups. Also consider whether an existing team can be expanded to include wider representation and to avoid duplication of effort in achieving the new team purpose. Given the purpose of the group, engage the existing team members in determining if additional members or stakeholders need to be invited to participate. This level of transparency and preparation is essential for the team to achieve its intended outcomes.

Provide clarity about goals and expectations for individual participation. Make sure members clearly understand the team’s role. The role may be to generate ideas, provide input, propose a strategy, make critical decisions, or actively implement a strategy. Also communicate the length of time expected to achieve team objectives. Specifics such as a calendar of meetings and possible assignments to be completed between meetings will assist possible participants in accepting or applying for membership.

Once roles and responsibilities are clear, establish norms. Initial meetings are important to establish how the team will interact, communicate to others in the district, and prepare for the next meeting. To ensure the team enjoys productive and engaging communication, team members may hold one another accountable for participation using a variety of interactive strategies. These guidelines for interaction and teamwork may be developed collaboratively, or they may be selected from a variety of resource. During meetings, regularly spend time building trust to nurture positive working relationships, which supports team communication and decision-making.

To maintain interest and encourage member participation during meetings,

  • Commit to concrete initial steps and outcomes on the path to larger priorities,
  • Develop a confidence in using data to define and address problems and assess progress,
  • Celebrate and build upon successes,
  • Communicate progress with stakeholders,
  • Acknowledge challenges and proactively collaborate to overcome these challenges, and
  • Be responsive to group needs and ongoing member feedback.

Conducting effective meetings requires planning and preparation. Preparation for each meeting is crucial to vary the structure of meetings and maintain team engagement. Well-planned meetings keep members on task, focused on the issues, and energized to maintain momentum. Incorporating objectives helps develop a shared sense of priorities and shows respect for people’s time and willingness to serve on the team. Adapting agendas in response to feedback from the prior meeting validates members’ needs and perspectives and promotes trust in the process.

If the group’s perspectives are too similar, during meetings role-play various viewpoints or use a tool to identify potential challenges or different sides of an issue. These types of discussions will enable the team to ask and deliberate difficult issues. They also clarify and remind the team of what needs to be accomplished during and between meetings. To keep members informed and committed, review minutes to confirm agreements and provide opportunities for regular feedback.

Facilitators play a crucial role in the success of the team’s work. The facilitator should feel prepared to provide clear directions during processes and monitor progress during activities. It is key that the facilitator be ready to employ strategies to guide the team to reflect and consider modifying its approaches. The facilitator’s responsibilities are many. They:

  • make sure all voices are heard,
  • establish and maintains the tone,
  • ensures individuals do not dominate the proceedings,
  • manage conflict in productive ways, and
  • help hold participants accountable for work to be completed between meetings.

The facilitator acknowledges challenges and is responsive to group needs and ongoing member feedback. Most importantly, the facilitator upholds a student-centered vision and leads the group in celebrating and building upon successes.

Facilitating meeting provides an opportunity to engage motivated, emergent leaders in a role that fosters leadership capacity and is a way to prepare for eventual leadership transitions. Of course, the individual leading the team can facilitate meetings or the team’s work. At the same time, the role of facilitator can also switch among members to build the team’s facilitation capacity. Look for members who can generate enthusiasm over a project. While alternating this role can develop leadership skills, promote sustainable improvement, and support eventual leadership transitions, this rotation typically requires additional time for role clarification, preparation, and training.

To support leadership in building effective teams, the Leaders element on the QSF website provides a variety of resources. Additionally, the resources associated with this video include a discussion guide that provides ideas for using this video with current and future leaders.

Thank you for viewing this discussion of practices for building effective teams. We encourage you to use and share this resource within your school and district community as you work to ensure that all your students learn and thrive.

Questions: Quality Schooling Framework | QSF@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0836 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
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