I know that it will be important for our group to have a consistent weekly meeting time throughout the year. I know I will follow through on this time to ensure that all members are present and that all members are sharing - and have equal sharing time. I'm organized and excel in this way. I'm skilled at breaking down complex issues and being able to explain them clearly - My students tell me this often.
Throughout the project I hope to be able to keep my group grounded. I want our project to be complex and in-depth, but I also want to keep our different portions linked and feasible for four busy teachers. Where we draw the line between what is possible and what's perhaps a little too logistically complex for us will one of my foci. I want to make sure that our project happens...and that it can be replicated and used in the future.
The process contributions I bring to my group are my planning ability,follow-through and innovation. I am good at communicating, brainstorming and summarizing--organizing and synthesizing little details into the big picture. “What’s best for students?” is paramount in my mind daily as I make decisions and plan. The AA 12th Step is “Principles above personalities,” and I think this sort of applies to working with coworkers since it includes the idea of humility. While I may not like someone, or approve of their methods, can I recognize what they do that is best for their students? If so, then I can accept them and have the humility to acknowledge that even in our differences we will find a common ground to get things done, while keeping the needs of the students the focus.
The best thing I have to offer is the fact that I like and respect each of my teammates as educators who go beyond the norm, so it isn't difficult to aim to go beyond "average" myself in this company. I trust them enough to bring ideas and dreams to the table, knowing I might not get "my way"--I have to throw out ideas for discussion, knowing mine may not be the best ones in the end. When we work collaboratively whatever is decided and done will be even more beneficial to students. However, we are going to learn from eachother and grow, too, so it isn't just about student learning.
Like they say, it is hard to soar with the eagles when you are surrounded by turkeys--well, thankfully, I have the opposite situation--I am in with the eagles, so I better soar. What we all have in common is that little risk-taking personality aspect that makes us jump out of an airplane, take on a job made vacant under criminal circumstances, be the first (in so many ways),etc. Each of my team mates has been at nearly all of the extra-curricular activities (unpaid) that our school sponsors to facilitate a sense of community for our students and their families. As a parent of a student at our school, I respect my colleagues who actually take time to show up unpaid at school community events. I evaluate coworkers through my very critical lens of “would I want this person teaching my child?” and this is true of my teammates. So, I trust I will learn quite a bit from them and am open and enthused about the potential for personal growth.
This week, I am working with my group here and contributing ideas for what to do with the eighth grade science side of our project, but my main role is bringing all of this information back to my eighth grade team back at school because they were unable to be here over the summer. Personally, I am a "go with the flow" type of person and a very hard worker and I think that makes me a good teammate!
My team has actually been working together for three years so we are all pretty close. We attend parties at each others houses, go out to eat, I would say we are all friends. This closeness brings with it some challenges and lots of benefits. Personally, my team has labeled me as the person who gives the constructive criticism. I am also the historian. I am constantly taking pictures, making personal notes on what is working and what needs to be revised. I am also very flexible and willing to try new ideas, curriculum, lessons. I could talk for a day about my weaknesses but... no.
I have been lucky enough to be in an awesome team. We work great together, partly because we have experience working together prior to this, and mostly because we're awesome people. As for my contribution to the group, I am the one who needs a timeline. I need to know what we are doing and when. Although this has the potential to be annoying, and I'm sure it is at times, my teammates know this about me and appreciate that if I have a plan I have no problem executing it. I also keep them focused. Another thing that I do, and so do most of my teammate (especially Deb Torng), is when we come up with a plan I spend a lot of time doing research and gathering resources to make the execution of the plan go as smoothly as possible. While I know that I contribute my share to the team, I wouldn't be nearly as successful. I love my team =)
I love my team!! One huge benefit of middle schools is that we already work in interdisciplinary teams. We've found that this not only bridges the gap from elementary to middle, but it also helps connect the curriculum for students--they can see how each discipline is connected in real-world ways. After working with my group for the last few years, I think I bring a lot of creativity and energy to the group. I also like to add humor to everything I do, which just makes everything more fun. I guess in a nutshell, I add fun to my group :)
As you know, these two weeks are only the very beginning. Our goal is to expose you to lots of new ideas about science, technology, project-based instruction and then to set you loose to do amazing things at your school sites. As I watch the planning, I am reminded that group dynamics play a huge role. We heard today about a group that started strong, but fizzled out. Just as we need to support the students as they learn to work collaboratively, we also need to analyze our own contributions and necessary compromises as team members. To that end.... What process contributions do you bring to your group? In what ways will you keep supporting your group dynamics throughout the year? What makes you a superb teammate? Feel free to brag! (This is about group dynamics, NOT your content/discipline).
So the question is what process contributions do I bring to the group? I think as group we work really well together. What I bring to the group is that I like to see the bigger picture. What is the end product? How are we going to get there? What are we overall trying to accomplish? are questions that I always keep in the back of my mind. I plan to support my team by keeping that big picture in mind- Is this really going to support student learning? etc. I think that as a team we get along pretty well and communicate with well each other. We also try to think how the project or one of our individual projects can work in one of the other content areas. I think what makes me a superb teammate is that I lighten things up with humor.
I will be pushing my teammates (and my self) to use technology in ways they have not (or did before and stopped). My experience as a tech trainer and coordinator fit perfectly for this role. This includes class/teacher websites, a shared calendar, google docs, online grading SW, courseware, student eMail accounts, etc... Since their students will be in my class an hour every day, I will build in expectations into my class that the students utilize the tech the other teachers are implementing.
Once I commit to something... I stick to it. Additionally, I like to get out of my classroom and see what others I doing. This type of project gives me an excuse to do that. The rest of my team can expect to see me fairly often.
I ask a lot of questions.
I wrote a message and then lost it in the cyber world! I'll try again.
I think we have a great team and a lot of resources at school. To me, the key to a successful project is manageability. Can you really do what is promised? Not do you want to, but can you. That is why it is essential that it is authentically part of your course and your responsibilities at school. It requires a team that you trust and that you can share honestly with about issues.
I want to think and then create a back map with small goals that need to be accomplished in order to fulfill our large goal. We need to be sure that we have the backing of the school to undertake this project. We need to identify resources and reach out to them.
We have to keep commitments to our fellow teachers and to our students. We have to keep our standards high but realistic. If a PBL is really student run, it may not meet our “perfect” self-standards but students may have learned a tremendous amount and will be motivated to continue working.
We have to always remember that this is about students learning and about learning ourselves.
Everyone in the group must be willing to be life-long learners, to make mistakes and learn from them. I hope I am the poster child for that experience.
A team can always help each other to get through every ones ups and downs.