A teacher librarian's learning journey

Teamwork and collaboration March 4, 2012

Filed under: ETL504 Teacher LIbrarian as Leader — Jennifer Baccon @ 4:10 am

The reading from Law and Glover (2000) deals with leading effective teams and the concept of “flatter hierachies”. Various theorists are examined in terms of the identifying reasons individuals participate in teams and what qualities define successful teamwork and leadership. The term “team” constitutes a special type of group that is drawn together through purpose..Law and Glover explain that “whilst ‘group’ tends to be a generic term covering two or more people working together, ‘team’ is used predominantly when a group is deliberately constructed and there is a clear focus on its processes and level of performance” (p. 72). Developing this a little further, “teams are frequently distinguishable from groups when three elements are present:

  • they share a common purpose and agreed values which help to regulate behaviour;
  • they have a sense of ‘team-identification’;
  • they have interconnecting and interdependent function” (p. 71)

Interdependence of functions speaks to me here…the team is capable of achieving more than the sum of achievement of its individual members. The path to team cohesion however, is not a smooth one…individuals in their diversity offer varied perspectives which provide richness to decision-making however, is also problematic if personal needs are to be recognised and valued. Fortunately theory demonstrates that team-building involves quite predictable ‘developmental routes’ (p. 74).

Tuckman’s (1965) model of team development, with the addition of a further stage proposed by Tuckman and Jensen (1977), is viewed as valuable and verifiable by research. Phases are:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing
  • Adjourning

To achieve the benefits of teamwork the group needs to clearly understand the task; develop sound working relationships as a team; as well as recognise the personal needs of the individuals  who constitute the group (Adair, 1986). Time management and differentiation are of importance if responsibility however, is to be truly shared (Johnson and Pickersgill (1992). “Clemmer and McNeil (1989) urge that these (team) goals can only be met if problem-solving, effective meetings and team cohesion, persuasion and influencing are used by team leaders” (p. 79).

Team difficulties can be placed in four categories, “i.e. those associated with goals, roles, processes, and relationships” (p. 84). Murgotroyd and Gray (1984) focus here on the importance of relationship factors for leaders in driving such teams and identify empathy, warmth, genuineness and concreteness as needed leadership qualities. Interestingly student achievement, they propose, is similarly a product of relationship isssues connected with personal qualities concluding that “classrooms largely act as ‘mirrors of the organization of the school as a whole'” (p. 84).

Beck and Yeager’s (1994)  article provides an excellent “road map” that needs to be made explicit to team members by leaders in achieving team success. Davidson (2002) article speaks to the idea of democratic leadership and the crucial role of schools “in preparing citizens for a participatory democracy”.


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