The Fuel of Teams: Collaborate - 3 Easy Steps (Part 3 of 3)

Updated: May 14, 2020

Collaborate – 3 Easy Steps for Team Transformation

Focus Area: Innovative Change

Part 3 of 3: Now, Put This To Use

by David Horton, Ed.D.

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Part 3 of 3 – Now, Put This To Use

“Everyone knows the usefulness of the useful…” – Chuang Tzu

[Note: Please see the Introduction and Diagnostic, Part 1, and Part 2, in the previous blog posts before using the material in this post.]

It’s a Journey Not a Destination

It is a commitment to focus on collective efficacy. It is a commitment to focus on teacher teams and their capacity. It is a mindset to keep the attention on building people and maintaining teams. Leaders of schools and teams must have a steady hand with these beliefs in mind to find lasting success with developing and building teams.

It will likely not be an overnight success with having conversations that help expand people’s thoughts and understanding about the way schools, students and learning function. It will no doubt be a process to develop them first as individuals then as a team. But, no matter the details, the process is sound. Making the commitment to develop people, to build their capacity, to expand conversations, focus on improved collective efficacy, impact teaching, and of course improve student learning are the most important things an educational leader can facilitate. And, a crucial component of having the meaningful and real conversations is that relational trust is built on dialogue like this.

Even if it seems to take a long time, it is worth it. The sustained gains will last long beyond the meeting itself. There is a compounding effect to building people, building relational trust and stretching their understanding of themselves, the students and the school. And, as always, don’t forget, you never arrive at the destination of having everyone being professionally developed with a common conversation.

This is all about the journey. It’s about hosting and facilitating conversations that can change perspectives. Build trust. Change practice. Change capacity. Change schools. It may not always look pretty or that it is making the dent you think it should. No matter. Just keep going anyway. The process matters. The conversations matter.

For the Team Leader - Keep Notes on the Planning and Preparation

There will be many things learned along the way using this process of purposeful dialogue. In much the same way that a recipe for a favorite meal might have some unique variations or delivery from kitchen to kitchen the basic dish remains the same but details change. As these preferences shared by the team come to mind or suggestions are made keep notes. Anything you can do to make this process more connecting and connected to the learners the better.

As you learn the preferences of the team keep careful notes. Refer back to your notes before every meeting and for the next year. Be sure to keep notes not just on content issues but also on delivery and team dynamics. Anything you can do to help facilitate the learning and make it better for the team the deeper your conversations will be. This leads to better teacher and school performance overall. These things all make an impact on student learning. Sometimes they are small, subtle movements and other times there is significant, rapid movement. Either way, keep notes on the details that made it work best for your team.

For the Team Leader - Time to Run the Meeting

Keep a careful watch on the time. Monitor how much your team can handle. Conversations about teams, schools and values can be exhausting and for some members it can be overwhelming even in small doses. That said, don’t rush it. Keep an eye on the time you have allotted to this process. Remember it’s about team building and personal growth. The growth and trust comes from the vulnerability of participation, learning, being real, and then putting things into action.

Every team will have its own personality. Every team will have its own threshold of how much they can handle. As you start to get a rhythm and pattern of how much they can accomplish without feeling swamped this will allow you to better plan future meetings accordingly.

For the Team Leader - Capacity of the Team

In many ways related to the section above, capacity of the team must always be considered. The individual personalities, learning needs, preferences and quirks all matter when planning for dialogue and discussion. Failure to consider the learners will result in unintended consequences. It could even lead to heavy resistance at wanting to engage in meaningful conversations at all. Be mindful of how much the team can handle.

For the Team Leader - Accountability on the Action Plan and In-between Meetings

A key component to this EAA protocol of trust-building dialogue is the accountability of doing things in between meetings. Each dialogue should conclude with a small action plan of things to accomplish in the next month. Tasks can and should be spread around to be sure that no one is overloaded. The point of it all is to encourage people to try and put things into action that were discussed in the meeting and agreed upon in the action plan.

For the Team Members - Accountability on the Action Plan and In-between Meetings

The main task of this model is to take some reasonable actions on the discussion held. Follow through is critical to anchor the team in the commitments they set for one another. If the team agreed to try a few things then the principal and team leader must find a way to monitor and support them in the coming month as they put things into action. Book actions and time on the calendar immediately after the meetings to monitor and accomplish the action plan items.

Continue the Trek

As discussed above, one the most important things to always keep in mind is to not stop. There is too much at stake to give up or abandon the task of building the learning network of a team and in particular building relational trust. There is unity, common language, and common purpose in having collaborative dialogue.


Well-trained and capable people organized into teams are the key to school success and deep student-centered learning. It is the center point of improved classrooms, better executed lessons, better student achievement, and better campus climate. Do not underestimate the power of a smart, well-trained staff that are collectively focused on the process of student-centered learning. The investment in staff pays off exponentially in all the areas mentioned above. The one thing is it takes time to build teams, build trust and effort put in to do it right. It takes time to monitor and fine-tune it. Teams take maintenance.

Teaching and learning is a wonderful process. Those that are in it because they believe in it and have passion for it make a difference for kids every day. This book is built to support the process of teams to empower teachers to get the most from their collaborative inquiry and work. Good luck on your journey. Don’t stop.

© Copyright 2020 – David Horton Consulting Inc. and Lead Team Learn

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© Copyright 2020 – David Horton Consulting Inc. and Lead Team Learn

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