The establishment of team norms, not only for collaborative team meetings, but all layers of team, is critically important. We have to admit that we did not understand the value of team norms when first engaging in this work. As we explored and read more about this concept, it appeared that norms were something that you put in place in schools that were large, where people did not know each other well or in schools where people didn't get along.
We thought, in our school, we didn't need norms. We got along great! We knew how to work together and after all, we were all professionals. We found out over time that we needed norms! We realized that we needed to say things like we agree to arrive on time and come prepared. We needed to say things like everyone's voice matters and we will seek out the opinions of others. Those expectations had to be clearly stated and understood and could not be assumed. We needed to clarify that they were important to each and every member of our team.
Your norms guide the work that you're doing as a team, and establish how we agree to work together in this collaborative space. When we think about the development of norms, it's not just about being able to go through the activity to create them, but ensuring they are present in the workspaces in which you are bringing your teams together. Including your norms on your agendas, posting a copy on the wall as a poster or perhaps on the table wherever you meet with your teams.
Building team norms for a variety of collaborative structures is a critical step when staff work together to identify, discuss and respond to the needs of students and reflect upon their collective classroom practices. The following protocol can assist schools in developing team norms to guide the work in collaborative team meetings and other collaborative meetings.
We have a sizeable collection of team norms from different schools who have gone through the process of developing and refining them. Team norms need to be developed by the members of the team and not adapted from another school. The purpose is to identify what each team member needs in order to successfully contribute and engage with the team. The following examples provide samples of how norms are documented and shared. The norms become very unique and contextualized for each setting.
After the norms have been created and documented then teams can draw specific attention to them at each meeting by identifying one norm that they will focus on during the meeting. Then at the end of the meeting, identify how they did on that particular norm.
Being able to move from assumptions to clear articulation is what is important within the team norms and it reinforces and builds upon the culture of collaboration that we are trying to infuse throughout the layers but particularly in the collaborative team meeting.
Access additional samples of team meeting norms developed by a variety of schools.
Interested in learning more? Access this blog posting, that goes deeper into the establishing and reinforcing team norms.
Access this video to listen to Kurtis and Lorna share the importance of team norms.