Strengthening Collaboration

Critical Tip of the Month

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Each teacher and student on a team brings with themselves unique characteristics, but when everyone works together, all of those characteristics combine and become something greater. Develop ways to look at your team as a whole, rather than a conglomerate of individuals, then the collaboration will run more smoothly.

TEAMS Essential Components that deal with collaboration:

  • Teachers meet regularly to plan and coordinate instruction.
  • Teachers observe students in other classrooms on a regular basis.
  • Students have frequent opportunities to work in cooperative groups.
  • There is sufficient time for collaborative planning.

The strength of the TEAMS instructional model is in specialty teachers working together for the good of each student within the team.  This can be a powerful and time-saving bond. Requiring time and care to develop a level of trust that will encourage a working relationship, this bond should be continually growing and respectful.  Here are some suggestions from TEAMS teachers that have worked in encouraging this strong bond between teammates.

  • Have a common discipline plan that each teacher believes in and can agree to use.
  • Complete classroom observations (Essential Component) on a regular basis.  Completing team observations build unity and trust.
  • Value team planning meetings – be on time, be ready to share, volunteer to do your share of the work.
  • Think of the entire team as part of a big family.
  • Share team duties.
  • Support each other during parent conferences.
  • Collaborate and plan together regularly.  Actively seek connections between content areas.
  • Plan team activities to celebrate success.
  • Meet socially to develop a more personal relationship with your teammates.  Knowing their personal interests often leads to discovery of their professional strengths.
  • Remember/ celebrate teammate’s birthdays.
  • Smile even when you’re having a bad day – don’t take that bad day out on your teammates.
  • Encourage and compliment one another often.
  • Disagree in an agreeable manner – many times you may have to agree to disagree on some issues.
  • Value the camaraderie – this job is too hard to do alone.

Maintaining Momentum

TEAMS Essential Component:  Students work at a variety of learning stations on a regular basis.

You’ve worked hard this year to establish routines and procedures to ensure quality, small group instruction through stations.  Feel confident as you continue to work in stations that the practice and specific feedback will provide your students with the skills and confidence they will need to be successful on upcoming tests.  Continue moving forward with rigorous station work and targeted sessions at Teacher’s Station.

Middle School students at Imagine School at Palmer Ranch, use the Task Card to stay on track with their activities during station time.  A well-designed Task Card gives students direction and purpose to their work, helps maintain on-task behaviors, and allows the teacher time to work without interruption at the Teacher Station.

(R)Middle School students in TEAMS teacher, Kim Cain’s Science classroom, combine fun with learning about the physics of a row of toppling dominoes.

(L) TEAMS Social Studies teacher, Karen Brown, posts exemplary student work as a sample for other students to follow.  Hands-on work in this middle school classroom allows students to add a creative touch while developing personal pride in their products.

Reflective Thinking

TEAMS Essential Components for 21st century learners:

  • Students set and assess goals.
  • Students assume significant responsibilities in the daily management of the classroom.
  • Students have frequent opportunities to work in cooperative groups.
  • Students use a record-keeping tool (Passport) and Task Cards to develop 21st century skills.
  • Students have frequent and equitable access to technology.

Today’s school environment requires much more than just critical thinking and content knowledge.  In a world of fast paced, technology-filled instruction, students must be organized, focused on goals, and collaborators with their peers (Carroll, T. G., Fulton, K., & Doerr, H., 2010, June).

The TEAMS Work Log is an essential tool to move students toward mastery of these 21st century skills (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009).   But like all powerful tools, they are only good if used consistently and correctly. If you haven’t already done so, teach explicit reflection strategies. Use your Reflection Flip chart along with subject specific vocabulary lists to empower students with the skills they need to tell what they learned and a detail or two about that learning.

Review the Work Log with your students.  Be sure that all sections are being used for purposeful documentation and insightful reflections.  Help students be self-directed, accountable and responsible as you guide them toward success with effective use and review of these tools on a regular basis.




Carroll, T. G., Fulton, K., & Doerr, H. (2010, June).  Team up for 21st century teaching and learning: What research and practice reveal about professional learning. Washington DC: National Council on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF).

Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009). Framework for 21st century learning. Retrieved October 20, 2011, from

Work Log Checks

Utilize the Work Log Rubric to hold students accountable and encourage them to do their best.

TEAMS Essential Component:  Students use a record-keeping tool (Work Log) and Task Cards to develop 21st century skills.

Preparing for TEAMS Renewal: Development of Parent Advocacy Group

Your parents love TEAMS so put that energy to use now in preparing for TEAMS renewal and possible expansion at your site. Work with parents to help toward keeping TEAMS in place at your site, as well as, updating materials for a fresh look each year.  Fundraisers, auctions, and car washes are ideas that can generate the affordable renewal fees for each teacher, providing Work Logs for students, new activities and Professional Development opportunities throughout the year.

TEAMS Essential Component:  Parent/Guardians use the TEAMS Work Logs to stay informed and provide input.

Here’s what will come with your 2012-13 TEAMS renewal:

Teacher Materials (per teacher)

  • Two New Lakeshore Learning activities including:
    • One interactive game (CD ROM)
    • One board game/print activity (with Task Card online)

Student Passports for the year

Professional Learning & Online Resources


  • On-Site Fidelity Visit by an ISI staff memberThe Leading Edge newsletter
  • Workshops-in-a-Box
  • Online Professional Learning Resources (password protected):
    • Monthly Teacher Tips
    • Station Activities w/ Task Cards
    • Webinars
    •  Wikis
    • NING networking
    • Online tutorials
    • Teacher Resources (PowerPoints, planning templates, newsletters, etc.)

Perpetual Skills and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning.

Perpetual Skills: A skill or strategy reinforced throughout the year and across all content areas. Every 21st century classroom should require the development of core academic subject knowledge and understanding among all students, as well as critical thinking and communication skills.  Blended within the context of core knowledge instruction, students must also learn the essential skills for success in today’s world; the perpetual skills of the TEAMS instructional model.

The graphic above represents each element distinctly for descriptive purposes. However, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills views all the components as fully interconnected in the process of 21st century teaching and learning.

Find activities that relate to the Perpetual Skills in the Teacher Tools section of the TEAMS online resources.

Assessing/Analyzing Information ● Accessing Prior Knowledge ● Brainstorming ● Career Exploration ● Classifying Information ● Comparing/Contrasting ● Context Clues ● Cooperating ● Creative Thinking ● Following Directions ● Graphically Representing Data ● Listening ● Note-Taking ● Observing ● Organizing Notebooks and Materials ● Outlining ● Print/Nonprint Reference Sources ● Problem Solving Strategies ● Reading Charts and Graphs ● Self Management ● Sequencing ● Speaking ● Study Habits ● Technology ● Textbooks ● Time Management ● Vocabulary

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