Building stronger families and stronger communities: Teamwork

One-room schoolhouse. That phrase conjures historical images of a schoolmarm tending to children of all ages. Imagine it: one teacher alone with a room full of children. No administrators. No cafeteria staffs. No maintenance crews. Thankfully schools have evolved into thriving communities of support!

NCFL Education Solutions

In conversations with past winners of the Toyota Family Teacher of the Year (TOY)award, they recognized that educating families requires teamwork. Educators, administrators, paraprofessionals, and support staff work together for the good of their students. Katy Kibbey (TOY 2008) of Michigan discussed her team’s commitment to working together. “We have devoted time for planning and discussing. We all have to be in this together, to best serve the family and be on the same page.”

Working as part of an effective team is not always easy. While some teams blend naturally, others require work to come together. Past Teachers of the Year identified the following key elements for effective teams:

  • Having open communication
  • Mentoring each other
  • Providing help and support when needed
  • Being flexible
  • Being open to others’ ideas

But award-winning teachers know that families benefit when teams come together. Some teachers spoke so strongly about the importance of teamwork that they were reluctant to talk about their individual successes. Kay Brown (2010 TOY) of Louisiana said, “I get nowhere without the team around me. This is not a one-person show.” Cecilia Ramirez (2001 TOY) of Arizona echoed that sentiment. “We all worked as a whole. A comprehensive team. We learned that by working together, the benefit is so powerful for parents and the children.”

Working as a team benefits families, but teachers are also rewarded for their efforts. When Karen Klima-Thomas (Arizona), the recipient of the inaugural Teacher of the Year award, said, “When I accepted the award at the convention, I stated that I would not be up there were it not for Marilyn Box and the whole Family Tree team. I believe that to this day. Linda Mead [adult education teacher] and I clicked from the very first time we met. She was the best teacher partner I could have ever had. My team was everything. My own team at my school and the Family Tree Program in total. We were so lucky to come together. I was so lucky to be part of something that changed so many lives.”

From teacher to teacher – it’s not a one person show. It takes a village. What activities does your school or program do to promote teamwork? Share your ideas in the comment section below. One lucky person who comments will be chosen to receive a free copy of “Stronger Families, Stronger Communities,” the NCFL publication that is the basis for this blog series.