Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Going Rogue

In my previous post, Are You a Team Player, I mentioned that I'd worked with the Super Team for two solid years. One of the traits we shared is that we looked for opportunities to include one another. This came naturally to us. It wasn't like we'd worked together for years (although I'd have liked that!). And it wasn't as if we were all best buddies outside of school (although I'd have liked that too!). I've worked on many different teams over the years and the most successful and enjoyable teams have included people who are inclusive and sensitive to the needs of the team.

I'd say I've spent about 75% of my years teaching on solid teams. The other 25% have been somewhat of a struggle. Some years you end up working with people who just aren't into the whole 'Team' mentality.

Several years ago another team I was on (totally NOT the Super Team) agreed on a cutesy Mother's Day project only to have Rogue teacher completely outdo us. Rogue teacher's students came out to board the buses carrying the equivalent Ralphie's fruit basket in A Christmas Story - their eyes proudly peeking out from behind a magnificent gift. Rogue teacher's 'twist' on our project put the rest of us (and our students) to shame. The team would have been more than happy to share and join in....if only we'd been invited. Rogue teacher sat in on the planning meeting when the project was discussed and said nothing. 

If you're a teacher you know what I'm talking about. Some teammates just don't get the Warm Fuzzies from working in a group. These people tend to stay quiet and on the sidelines in meetings. They contentedly sit back listening to ideas being tossed around and withhold comments. Frequently, in my experience, they've gone on to do the very thing that was discussed in the meeting, but with their own little 'twist'. (A 'twist' that makes the lesson waayyyy better!) Or they've gone in the polar opposite direction of the team leaving us wondering what happened to 'the plan' and feeling somewhat hurt by the departure.

Why don't rogue teachers share? I cannot say. Perhaps they don't feel supported by their teammates (Unsupportive naysayer teammates are a whole 'nother post!). If you're shot down at meeting after meeting it's understandable to feel discouraged. Maybe they don't think their ideas are good enough. Another (unlikely, I think) possibility is that they want some sort of glory from being the one who thought of something awesome.

Look, I'm cool if you want to do your own thing. One of the greatest things about our profession is that teachers are allowed to create and adapt lessons to help students learn the content assigned by the Standards. However, don't sit in meetings, nodding your head, withholding comments, agreeing by default and then take off in a different direction. I WANT to know what you're doing if you're one of my teammates and I'll tell you why.

You may be doing something that is:
  • way better than what I'm doing.
  • completely amazing that I've never seen or heard of.
  • the BEST way to teach the topic, but I didn't know about it.
  • something my students would absolutely LOVE.
You can be sure if any of the above are true and I get caught using your idea I will give YOU all the credit. (Shoot, even if no one catches me using your idea, you can be sure that I know where it came from and will never forget that my teammate influenced my teaching.) That's how I roll. Give credit where credit is due. What could be better if you're in it for the glory than having four or five teammates singing your praises for being the one who came up with the super amazing brilliant idea that we've all implemented??

If you feel unsupported by your team, hang in there. Keep offering ideas. Take an interest in what they are doing (even if it seems lame). If none of those suggestions works, close your door and keep on truckin' (I've been in that position too!). Cross your fingers and hope for some fresh, amazeballs teammates in the upcoming year.

If you feel that your ideas aren't good enough maybe they aren't...but I doubt it! You have to start somewhere. I can't tell you how many very LAME ideas I've thrown on the table to my teammates. And either my teammates have improved the ideas with their additions or they've helped me to see why the idea just needs to be tossed or sometimes put on the backburner for another year.

In my previous post, "Are You a Team Player?" I stated that I've never been in a meeting where an idea wasn't somehow improved by the input of others. I stand by that statement. It's how I work. I throw ideas around and expect people to help me flesh them out. I totally enjoy listening to other people throw around ideas too! That's how we learn and grow as professionals. 

Have you had rogue teammates? Do you have any tips for encouraging a rogue to join the flock (or at least share a little hay)? Do share!

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