Teachers Pupils Directors of the school
Education, K-12 Education
What We Did
Our story takes place in a Christian Secondary school in the Dutch countryside. The team of teachers and their team leader work in an “advanced vocational education” school (VMBO) that follows primary school. Their pupils are ages 14-17. Apart from the classroom education, the school also emphasizes practical learning, using the phrase, “real life learning gives you a future” as their slogan. Pupils have training periods in companies and organizations to help them make the step toward a job. After their education is completed, they generally work in technical or supportive office jobs or in the healthcare institutions.
In September 2010, the school moved in to a brand new building that was designed together with the director and other stakeholders in the school to make it a safe, open, and transparent place of learning. One year earlier, they started the implementation of their educational innovation project. As a consequence of the innovation, one of the challenges for each team of teachers was to co-create a “Leerhuis” or Learning Home for their pupils. In the past, most of the education took place in a classroom with one teacher using one-way communication. The “Leerhuis” is an educational setting for bigger groups, a combination of classes with two teachers and different rooms. Each teaching team in the school was given the autonomy to create their own “Leerhuis” and to make it into an inspiring and special learning environment for the pupils.
In this story we focus on one particular teaching team; we call it Team T. In the beginning of 2011, I had an interview with the director of the school. He told me about the problems with Team T. One particular teacher in this team was having a conflict with a colleague for some time and the conflict was escalating — even though the team leader already had held an intervention interview with both of them. Given this conflict, Team T was not making any progress in creating a “Leerhuis” together. They instead were using the setting as a kind of homework class and could not agree upon a common vision and design for their “Leerhuis”.
To help Team T move forward, our idea was to start team building in an AI way. We thought this would help the team to connect, combine and co-create. The next step for me was to get introduced to the Vice Director and the team leader to examine the possibilities that a strength-based team building process had to offer the school.
Fortunately, all participants in this meeting were enthusiastic about using an AI-based teambuilding approach. They were rather emotional about the teacher that caused the conflict, as there had been so much impact on the team in general and especially on one team member. Apart from an individual problem, they also mentioned that the team really had a problem in moving forward and meeting their challenge to create a “Leerhuis”. After discussing, we agreed on the following process:
- Interview with two directors of the school and the team leader about the team problems.
- Individual interviews held by the facilitator with all the team members and the team leader.
- Feedback to the team in their weekly team meeting about the interviews. Create a shared decision about a positive topic: To make together a success of the “Leerhuis.”
- First team session focusing on the “Discovery” of the strengths and the positive core of the team with the whole team and one of the directors.
- Second team session focusing on “Dreaming” about the ideal “Leerhuis.”
- A meeting focused on “Designing” the ideal inspiring “Leerhuis,” including mutual agreements, principles and rules.
- Evaluation of the process with the two directors.
Impact on The Organization
Our aim was to help the Team T to connect, combine ideas and co-create their Leerhuis. The conflict between two of the teachers needed attention and we spent time with the team coaching and working with them. The perception of and feelings about the problem and how to cope with it was very relevant for every individual. These issues had to be put on the table in the beginning of the sessions to clear the air and create the space for the team to free up their attention and create energy for the teamwork.
By focusing on our work together using AI, good work was done to connect the team members and help them engage in collective dreaming about creating an inspiring and interesting educational setting for their pupils. There is a connection that develops between people when they share success stories from the past. And, then sharing hopes and dreams about the future helps them to fulfill the common tasks, ambitions and destiny that lie ahead of them. They had a common dedication to the pupils and a shared wish to make this teamwork for the success of the pupils. The Team T teachers even came up with their own slogan: “Together for your success!”
Impact on Us
We felt the passion in the teachers to reach their students in different ways and help them to be successful and proud of themselves.