High-stakes testing has had an enormous impact on how educators approach student learning in the United States. School districts have state-mandated tests that students must pass to advance to the next grade. This has caused an increase in teacher accountability. Now more than ever it is important that regardless of what teacher a student has he is learning the same course objectives as every other student who is in his grade. To ensure that all teachers are providing students with lessons that cover state objectives essential for students to pass state tests, teachers must work together. For this reason effective teamwork in education is now considered mandatory in many school districts.
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Administrators are responsible for managing and maintaining all aspects of schools from the curriculum to the budget. Many small campuses have at least two administrators which include a principal and assistant principal, but larger high schools can have a principal with as many as 10 assistant principals. Collaboration among these individuals is paramount to creating a school environment that is safe and where learning can take place. Administrative teams in schools are also responsible for ensuring that the expectations for staff and students are clearly defined and consistently enforced. Without a solid foundation of administrators running a school, there could be a negative impact on student learning, which is the primary focus of a school.
Primary schools are different from secondary schools in that each teacher remains with the same students all day and teaches every subject. Grade-level teams in primary schools help to ensure that every student is learning the same objectives as every other student in her grade at the school is. The focus of teaching teams is student learning.
For elementary teams to be effective, teachers should meet each week to discuss what objectives are being covered in each subject, lesson plans that will be used, how the objective will be tested and also what problems teachers think they may have with the week's lessons or objectives.
In secondary schools teachers often work in teams, but here effective teams are composed of content areas. For example, there would be an English team, social studies team, math team and science team. Like elementary school teams, secondary teams should also meet weekly to discuss objectives and how those objectives will be taught.
Not only does each team have a leader, but each subject area or grade level has a department head. Teamwork that has a positive impact on learning has a positive effect across curriculums because the department heads meet to discuss what their teams are focusing on. This is essential because effective instructional strategies can be shared along with specific objectives to determine if any cross over several subjects. When this happens it is extremely valuable because teachers are aware of how their classes relate to other classes, and, if used properly, this can increase student understanding.
There are some teams within a district that are created to deal with issues that are not directly related to student learning. These teams collaborate to make decisions about things such as student and staff dress code, the school calendar, student incentives, and grading policies. Creating district policy on topics like these happens through campuses collaborating with each other to come to a consensus.
An integral part of effective education teams is the use of data and statistics. There are many types of teams in school districts that are designed to meet the needs of that district. However, one thing that all effective educational teams will have in common is the use of data. Setting goals, tracking student progress, and measuring student achievement should be done using objective standards, and the most objective data available are a student's test scores on both district and state standardised tests. Focusing on learning means establishing when learning has taken place, and test scores and other objective data is the best way to do this.
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