Happy 2017! Each year at this time we hear about and or watch the College Football Bowl games and the NFL Playoffs. Many of us watch the games for the love of the sport, to witness amazing plays and for some, they watch the games to view the power of teamwork. As a coach and PE teacher, I watch the games for all the above reasons. However, I am always drawn to watching the interactions of team members on the sidelines. I watch how the athletes interact and respond to each other and how they interact and respond to their coaches. Team culture is HUGE! Team culture is everywhere!
Team culture is the expression of a team's values, attitudes and beliefs. There is a strong sense of mission and purpose. Teams are not just in sport. Teams are prevalent in a school setting through group projects, PE games and leadership development. Another area in which team work can be seen, is in small and large corporations. All of those team settings have a purpose, mission, and a goal. It is up to EACH individual to trust other team members, honor the same values, beliefs and attitude. This isn't easy to do on daily bases.
In lower school, the students get their first experiences of team work and team culture through sport and group projects. Each student has a different view on what a team is based on their experiences and what they have seen from high school, college and professional sports teams. As a teacher and coach I look for those teachable moments and ways to teach teamwork and team culture through sport and games. "A team member that makes the team great is more valuable than a great player" (Coach John Wooden).
My goal for my classroom culture is to teach students to function, learn and work as a team. This means to embrace each others differences as well as each individuals similarities. By doing this we work together to achieve the common goal of learning new skills, showing good sportsmanship, supporting each others learnings, growing as leaders and most of all having fun. There are times when students don't see eye to eye on a call made within a game or get frustrated if a skill is taking longer to learn compared to another student or if one group looks to be stronger or weaker in their skills which to some students, is "unfair". These are the teachable moments I embrace and really want to remind and teach my students we are all in this together. We also discuss how we as a team (class) can share our voice yet understand it must represent the betterment of the team.
I want my students and student-athletes to feel safe to speak up and know that it is normal to feel a bit vulnerable. This is part of learning, growing, supporting and working together. All these skills come together to create a strong team culture which my students and my student-athletes will use not only in school and sport but in their future work places.
I encourage you to observe the sidelines of any game you are watching, be it young children, high school, college or professional. Watch the interactions of the players and the players with the coaches. One can truly learn a lot just through the skill of observation. If you are in the work force, pay attention to what makes your workplace strive towards the companies common goals. Teamwork is everywhere and if the team culture is one in which everyone is engaged, feeling supported and successful, the entire team will be successful! Here is a great video so show the power of teamwork and the fun it truly can be for everyone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRZnTfRingg