Thursday, July 17, 2008

Team Challenge

David Spragg provided a thought provoking day, as he challenged the teachers of the Northland Kindergarten Association, to step forward positively as we face new changes. Many of us are excited by the prospect of having a new teachers join our individual kindergarten teams. David Spragg proffered that if our new challenges DON'T SCARE us, then we need new challenges. That is - there will be some testing times. It was mentioned a number of times that it takes almost two years to settle into a new job, for changes to become embedded, for a team to congeal.

Personality types
We identified our different personality types based on shapes. Many identified with the Squiggle - a person with many ideas, who can see the whole picture, who is a bit rusty on detail. The Circle was the next biggest shape - the nurturer, making sure everyone is ok and working together well. And then the square, rectangle and triangle - more interested in detail, some more so than others, some more obsessively than others. It is important to remember that no one shape is better than another - indeed it is better for a team to have one of each 'shaped personalities' in the team - a team of circles rolling around taking care of each other will not dream or get the job done, squiggles will too might have the ideas, but if the detail is not there the job is not achieved, and the squares, rectangles and triangles need a dreamer.

It was also noted that we need to treat our team members with the same respect that we treat children. If a child said "I'd like to build a rocket today!" - would it be acceptable to respond - "Mmm, No. We tried that yesterday and it didn't work." And yet for some reason we are apt to responding in this way to new ideas from adults. Spragg challenged "What is the worst that could happen in trying out an idea, even if you have tried it before, or don't think it will work - Let your team member give it a go, with the support and enthusiasm we proffer children".

Barriers to flexibility - what are our barriers. Spragg divided the barriers into three main areas - Attitude, Structure, Competence.

Attitude. We use power play, Cynicism, tradition - to prevent ourselves moving forward.
Structures. Architecture (Not a big enough office, not a big enough playground), Union regulations, Legal requirements (can't do that we're not allowed)
Competencies - Knowledge gaps, Skills Shortage (don't know how to draw), Technology deficiencies (don't know how blogs work), Innovations shortfalls (isn't measurable)

Tantrums - He suggested our barriers can be manifested in what essentially is an adult tantrum. We all do it, it is way to ensure we get things done the way we want them done - but tantrums are not helpful in a team decision. How does your tantrum manifest itself? If you feel a teacher throwing a tantrum in a meeting - Spragg suggests you point it out. It is hard, but a good decision can not be made if one member is throwing a tantrum. It is best to say "Lets put a hold on this decision until you get a grip on your tantrum." Tantrums need to be left at the door.

To build a team philosophy - you first have to be a team and have a personal philosophy within that team. Spragg suggested that we work together for a term, make notes and sort out our own philosophy in words, and then come together and work out a team philosophy.

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." - Darwin

So for Manaia Kindergarten, we wait, step forward positivitely and with excitement - prepared for the new road ahead.

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