In an Education Team Classroom, we are interested in building a group that is characterized by high level of familiarity between group members, a sense of involvement and team pride. Such group that will make the students proud of it; make them perceive the classroom as an organic and safe unit; and build in them a sense of belonging. We call this Team Spirit.
Team Spirit is the expression of social unity and mutual responsibility between group members. Similarly to a sports team, a great deal of importance lies on nurturing team spirit and team pride; on developing personal and collective commitment; and on building interpersonal ties and collaborations.
Developing a team spirit in the classroom does not happen overnight, rather a process that starts on the first day and continues throughout the Education Team’s lifespan and therefore, must be maintained.
The responsibility to develop the team spirit lies on the shoulders of the team’s “coach” (teacher) and the players (students).
Team Spirit can be developed and maintained by various activities aimed at:
- Extending familiarity between the students
- Strengthening enthusiasm and faith in the class’ ability to succeed together – “all for one, and one for all”
- Appreciating the current and future educational value of peer and shared learning.
As part of the process of developing a team spirit, teachers must hold expectations setting discussion with their students. The students must gain an understanding of the process they are about to engage in; the changes that will take place in the classroom’s management; and the benefit for each one of them and for the Education Team. Teachers, who worked with the Education Team Model, chose to explain the model and set expectations in a variety of ways – a game, a conversation, a lecture, a presentation, or a festive ceremony.
In some schools in Israel, like Mazkeret Batya and Ulpanit Bar Ilan, the staff has decided to open the first week of the school year with team building games and development of a team spirit instead of studying. This was out of the belief that team spirit is important for nurturing conditions suitable for shared learning.