How to start an Education Team – the manual:

Mathematics Education Team

When everyone COUNTS

How to start an Education Team – the manual:

There are several ways to build an Education Team. Every teacher knows their students and themselves and therefore can choose the best way to implement the model for the benefit of all partners. In this entry, we will review the main principles in the process of building an Education Team in the classroom. However, we should avoid treating this chart flow as the only available option. There are no two identical Education Teams or coaches and therefore, only you will know what is the best way for your team. This is merely a suggestion.

  1. Team Spirit

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.

  1. All Team Members are both Learners and Teachers

Mapping Areas of Strength

Before the students start to learn and teach each other, we need to map their areas of strength.  The aim of mapping is to ensure that the students’ activity stems from a place of power and that their role in the Education Team, which is derived from the area of strength, is meaningful. By tapping into the students’ areas of strength we guarantee that each of the students feels that their contribution is meaningful to the Education Team’s success and to achieving its goals. Mapping the students’ strength area is accomplished in varying time frames. For instance, Liat held daily meetings aimed at mapping her students’ areas of strength during a period of two weeks; Daphna, on the other hand, completed mapping within half an hour. Some will map comprehension and knowledge on a topic during a series of classes while others in a single class sitting (i.e. by asking who understands the learned material and can explain it, who needs more explanations, etc.). It should be noted that the process of mapping areas of strength, very much like the creating of Team Spirit, is never completely finished. The teacher should be aware of the changes, the directions of development, and the students’ will; to learn to know them better and better with each day; and to make sure that there are ample and various ways for expressing the defined areas of strength.

Learner/Teacher

In an Education Team, the conservative teacher’s roll disappears. He is no longer the main source of information; he is available for integrating all that is going on in the classroom, including learning together with his student’s material that he is unfamiliar with. He becomes a learner. At the same time, the student becomes responsible for the Team and no longer holds the passive status of the conservative learner. He becomes a teacher, especially in areas in which he excels. In this process, we aspire to motivate the students to take a stand and be active with regards to knowledge and processes of teaching and learning: to be involved and practice mutual responsibility; to move from personal to collective responsibility; to experience the learning materials through teaching skills too (i.e. questions, explanations, examination, evaluation, etc.). We aspire to develop networking and learning ties: to nurture interpersonal interactions and a willingness to assist and to be assisted. We will examine whether a relevant and facilitating discourse takes place and whether ‘seeing the place and needs of others’ occurs, and whether the appropriate adjustments are made for this purpose.

 

The easiest way to start the Education Team’s work is via implementation of mutual learning practices, with which some of the students and teachers are familiar.

  1. A Shared Goal & Graphic Representation of Progress

Determine a Shared Goal

When determine a shared goal, the teacher, i.e. the Education Team’s coach, has to ask where does he/she want to take the class and what is the team’s goal by the year’s end, both academically and in terms of the climate in the classroom. Subsequent to setting a goal, intermediate objectives must be defined for achieving it, which will also be used as measures of progress. We propose to define the measures of success with the students. In this way, they will take part in building the Education Team’s vision and will be committed to its realizations. Some teachers choose to hold a discussion with their students and to choose together the shared goal and not just the measures of success. Please note – utilizing this practice is recommended particularly in classes that are cohesive and in advance Education Team stages.

Graphic Representation of Progress

The shared goal is the engine for the shared learning. However, it will only be effective if we successfully generate visibility for the process in the classroom. A progress graph is a graphic representation of the shared goal’s measures of success according to the set objectives. As suggested, the shared goal is presented and by doing so, members of the Education Team can have an up-to-date feedback on the Education Team’s progress towards the shared goal and the objectives. When the shared goal is presented, it generates motivation among the students and pushes them to take part in improving the measures of success on their way to achieve the goal, and, in turn, becoming a unifying force of the Education Team. This is very similar to a sports team that sees its progress by reviewing statistical data or by its ranking. An Education Team can have different goals, such as academic excellence, social goal, and a PBL goal. In a social team, i.e. a goal of improving the group’s cohesiveness or improving its climate, the group must also set measures of success and graphically present the group’s progress. The group will review its progress every set period of short time, which is expressed as a group score, the level of networking and mutual help or by the participants’ degree of satisfaction.

  1. Assessment

After completing an assessment of the learning that takes place in the classroom, we turn to the graph and mark the Education Team’s progress in reference to the measures of success. By returning to the graph, we generate enthusiasm among the students and with the ranking of the Education Team’s Spirit, we go back to stage 4 – every student is also a teacher, and continue learning with the Education Team model until the set measures of success have been achieved.

Teachers who work according to the Education Team Model have created a variety of assessment practices which incorporate the Education Team perspective.

Summary

Let’s take a moment to review all the stages:

  1. Team Spirit
  2. Learner/Teacher
  3. Shared Goal
  4. Assessment
  1. Doing it differently? Tell us how!

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Good Luck


Testimonials

Thoughts and shares from teachers who implemented the Education Team Model in Mathematics:

The Education Team! Today I taught two classes with the Education Team Model (one heterogenous group with stickers, and one weak homogeneous group without stickers). In the heterogeneous group, it worked fantastically! The students enjoyed it and I enjoyed watching them teach the study material. My role was to maintain the language of math. Finally, I witnessed collaborations and a meaningful learning! Most of the groups completed most of their tasks on time! Except for one group that had one girl that considerably slowed down the pace. I think that I will take all the weak students and teach them separately or include only one or two in each of the groups (I’d love to get ideas from you…) In the weak homogenous group, it was more challenging, but still more successful than other standard classes. I used today what we have learned yesterday and it was simply amazing!! The subject was geometry for 11th grade – 4 study units. The students were asked to solve 2 geometry questions by using 4 stages and at the end of each stage they used a sticker. We have planned 30 minutes for this task (usually, 2 questions will take the entire time of a class). The students completed the task in 25 minutes. They taught each other, corrected each other’s mistakes (something that didn’t necessarily happen in class in the past) and to my surprise, it wasn’t necessarily the strongest student that did all the teaching. All the students said they liked studying in this way.

Hi,

I’d like to share with you that I taught today with the Education Team Model in 8th grade, mid-level group in math. This was the second time after a very difficult and cluttered class. So far, this group was very challenging to me and it was hard to motivate them to do the work. We’ve worked on basic level equations. At the end of the class we have solved 150 equations and got a standing ovation. I was able to explain the material to one group and let another group get assistance from the same question! I have no doubt that for me it’s just the start of a new road that will, God willing, develop greatly. Many thanks.

In my experience with 11th grade students – they keep asking me when are we having a coaching session… Today we did morning exercises. They are thrilled about working in a group setting. I am too. They love the “green” student method very much. The students that understood the material after my short explanation and can teach it. They sit in small groups and every group has at least one Green student.

I’d like to share with you that, with God’s help, thanks to the Education Team, my students are breaking records with the number of exercises they solve. Every class they find out how powerful they are and their ability to self-learn and to teach their friends! I feel that the Education Team has worked wonders. It feels to me as if I got a new class. Thank you, Yair, Yoav and to all the partners in the Education Team for the shares and the ideas! Shabat Shalom and good news.

I must share! A we speak, I’m returning from a meeting with the parents and the feedbacks I received from the parents are awesome! We’ve broke a record ever since we’ve started working with the Education Team. My students are breaking records with the number of exercises. We’ve reached a point that most of the class finished all the study material five minutes before the end of class and the students are so happy about the fact that they can teach each other!! Yoav, Yair – you’re the best

I decided to put emphasis on transferring responsibility to the students and allowing mobility in the classroom. In other words, if a student is not comfortable in one group or if a student believes that he understands the material better in another group, he can move to another group where he’ll be able to learn better. I’ve introduced the traffic light and it upgraded the language in the classroom. Before we start work, I check status and it’s the students’ responsibility to help the yellows and reds. Half way into the class period, I stop to check status again to see if there’s an improvement and I ask for more greens to help the yellows and reds. Lastly, I built an Education Team area in the classroom. The area has the agreement that they signed at the beginning of work and a class graph.

I have to share the activity I did today. (A group activity) I gave the students a chance to work in groups and practice questions on the Pythagorean theorem. In the second half of the class period we had a competition between the groups, each time a different representative from each group approached the board to solve a question from the questions bank … (This way, the group had to make sure that all group members know how to solve the questions because everyone participates). The winning group received 5 bonus points for next week’s test… The students were excited about it and were ready to learn! I can’t wait to see the results in the exam.

We’ve tried the Education Team in 8th grade (highest level group). It was a delight. The students were excited and responsible, and collaborated. I gave them a reflection form and we had a conversation about the process. They felt that they’ve learned and had fun.