I did and it has the ability to transform my classroom dynamic.
Recently at a professional development session, I heard a colleague discuss how he "sells" his math class to his students. Rather than focus on him being the teacher and them being the students, he focuses on the concept of the class being a team. What better way to describe the teacher/class dynamic than as a coach and team members? Regardless of purpose, a team is nothing more than a group of people working together toward a common goal. A coach is the mentor that provides guidance, direction, and advice to the team in pursuit of their goal. I can't think of a better analogy for how I want my class to function! While my teaching style would never be confused with the old "Sage on the Stage" model of education, I struggle with how to explain to my students what I wanted our learning experience to look like: all of us, working together toward the common goal of improvement. Bob Trowbridge's philosophy of teamwork helped establish a collaborative, supportive learning environment that encourages all members, including me, to grow.
Recently, while discussing the subject of "belonging" being necessary to the success of students at a school, Bob shared his philosophy on teaching. Knowing that many students have a negative association with math, Bob designed an approach based on the concept of a team. The class will not be a situation where he will sit up at the front, spouting knowledge, hoping it will stick to someone. Rather, Bob engages his students in the class with a "we're all in this together" mentality often seen in successful teams. He equates his role to that of a coach, where he is designing drills and practice (homework) to provide students with the easiest and most effective path to success. While all of this is what we teachers hope to be able to do for our students, I've never been able to explain it to them this clearly. The vast majority of our kids have been a part of team, whether that be academic, athletic, or even service-oriented like the Boy Scouts. Therefore, our students instantly get a different image of the role of the teacher! It's so simple yet so effective!
We'll see how this plays out over the year but I can not thank Bob Trowbridge enough for helping me reach this point. By viewing each other as teammates, my students realize that their success as a group will increase based on collaboration. By viewing me as a coach, rather than the teacher up front, my students begin to see me as a participant in the learning process rather than the guy giving the test. Hopefully, this helps sets the stage for a positive, collaborate, team culture. After all, teamwork makes the dream work! What are some of the things you use to foster a positive culture in your team?