I’m approaching this school year with several goals. One of those goals is to be a better teammate to those I work with. I have the luxury of working with folks in all different capacities in my district, which means my interactions are varied and our role-relationships are constantly evolving and changing. Here are five ways I hope to be a better teammate this year:
Give praise, but make sure you are genuine:
We all know that teammate who seems to be full of compliments and kind words. This teammate always has something nice to say and showers others with words of praise. We all feel good when being praised, and we all enjoy being recognized for our work. But like all good things, praise is best served in moderation. Don’t shy away from giving praise, but make sure it’s genuine and warranted. If it’s not, it will come off insincere and negate any positive effect.
Dish out challenges, but make sure you are supportive:
The best colleagues I’ve worked with have always challenged me. They’ve pushed me to do things I didn’t think were possible and things I didn’t think I would ever be able to accomplish. They helped to paint a picture of what could be rather than continuing with what is. Because of the support and encouragement that followed the challenge, I knew I could push myself and reach beyond my level of comfort. Be that type of colleague on your team. Be the type of teammate who pushes and challenges but stands with your teammate when the going gets tough.
Be quick to question, but make sure you are respectful:
Far too often we find ourselves with a team full of "yes" people. The teams that function best are the teams with people who aren’t afraid to ask questions. It’s the people who ask the hard questions who help to move an idea or an initiative forward. The key to asking these hard questions is to do so respectfully and appropriately. At times this means asking a question in private and not in front of the group. Other times, it means presenting a possible solution with the question.
Be sure to speak your mind, but make sure you listen first:
It’s ok to have an opinion. In fact, I think it’s preferred over not having an opinion. But, be sure to actually listen before you voice your opinion. Human nature is to start formulating a response while the other person is still talking. This means we stop paying attention to what the other person is saying. Do your best to give your teammates your undivided attention first. And, keep in mind that if you’re never speaking your mind, you're not adding value to the team. Be an active participate, not a passive bystander.
Be the first and the last on the scene:
Be the type of teammate who is first on the scene and the last to leave. It’s easy to talk about doing something, but the best teammates I’ve worked with didn’t just talk about it, they actually did it. They also were there in the end to make sure everything was done right. Be the teammate that people can count on and rely on. Be the type of teammate who leads by example. Be the type of teammate who is there for others. This is going to be your year… this is going to be your team’s year… so good luck!
Justin is currently the Director of Curriculum & Support Services in the Union R-XI School District in Union, Missouri. Prior to that, he was Principal and Assistant Principal at Poplar Bluff Junior High School in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and before that he was a high school German teacher. Justin is very active on Twitter (@justintarte) and is the author of one of the most read education blogs in the world, Life of an Educator (justintarte.com). Justin is excited about integrating technology and social media into the educational setting, while increasing collaboration and transparency among all stakeholders.