One of my favorite tropes in media is the team building trope.
Someone sees a need and begins to cultivate a group of individuals to meet that need. You get to meet the individuals, see their particular skill set and just how they are introduced to the team. The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Avengers, and coming soon- the Justice League all have this trope.
What I love about it is how the individual's strengths play into the team's success. But at the same time, their individual personalities do not always mesh. The psychology of the team can drive or destroy a group. There is a line in the Avengers about this psychology.
Teams are a volatile mixture of talent and ego, skill and personality. Find the right mix, and you get amazing things. But find the wrong mix, and....
Personally, I am a Justice League guy more than Avengers. So I am eagerly awaiting November, and soaking up all the trailers being released. In each trailer, we see that there is a need for a team, but there will be some volatility. But I also think that volatility is why we love these team movies. If everyone just gelled immediately, it would be boring to watch.
But when it is our life, our classroom, we do not want volatility. We want cohesion, unity, collaboration. We want a team.
The truth is, our classroom is our team, our Justice League of Students. There are lots of personalities represented- we've got our Supermen, our Wonder Women, our Batmen. We also have our Cyborgs, Flashes and Aquamen. Each with skills, each with personalities, each with histories and struggles. In part two of this blog, I want to go into detail about dealing with these personalities, but for this blog, I want to focus on you, the teacher. Because, according to another great team movie, Remember the Titans:
It does not matter how talented or amazing a group is, if their leader reflects a poor attitude, so will the team. And....
Is your classroom chaotic, disorganized, and rebellious? Check your attitude to make sure you don't come off as random and unfocused.
Is your class sullen, disengaged, or checked out? Maybe you've been acting kinda cynical.
Is your class driven, focused and productive? Maybe you've set clear expectations and upheld them.
In short, check your attitude. It could be positive or negative, and the way you check is to read your kids. Their behavior is in many ways a mirror of how you teach. They can become like you, or respond to you. If you are condescending and treat with little respect, guess what? They will return in kind. When I am down, they can tell. When I am excited and ready to be there, they can tell.
You cannot control how students come to you, but you can control how you come to your students.
You may be a Batman or a Flash, a Wonder Woman or a Cyborg, but as the leader you must find a way to relate to each student. That starts with an intent and willingness to engage the students and meet them where they are. When you do that, you set the stage for uniting your class- or league.
The simple steps to start with today are these
1. Identify your attitude
2. Make needed adjustments to attitude
3. Read your students current state
4. Move to where they are
5. Create meaningful opportunities to connect there.
In Part Two, we will look at the students' various personalities- and maybe even identify your own.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.