Team Building

Team Building

  • I  want you  to think about how a team effort can accomplish more for each of you and for your program.
  • Think back to your lives in your program. Remember some successful times and/or events. What made them successful?  What made you feel engaged and capable?  How did you know that what you were doing made a difference in children’s or teacher’s lives?  How did it make a difference in your life?
  • Also I want you to think about what you value in your program? What is most important to you?

Program Design — An Expression of a Programs’s Values

Values Are:

  • Deeply held & enduring view of what we believe is important or worthwhile
  • Define how we treat others
  • Define how we spend our time
  • Define who we are as individuals
  • Give life to our convictions 
  • Provide a lens through which we interpret the world

Think about values and how they shape how we view the world, how we interpret the actions and motives of the people we interact with, and the very things that guide the choices that we make.

Our core values cut across all aspects of our lives. They serve as a moral compass for all the decisions we make. Being crystal clear about the beliefs and values that shape our identity is central for leaders in any setting.

  • Program teachers values guide what they value about their children & parents.
  • Program Managers set the stage for what values are appropriate in their setting.
  • For example, if you value cooperation you probably encourage teachers to share resources and work on things together. You ask parents to give input into your curriculum.
  • If you value independence, you may structure assignments to promote autonomy and personal achievement instead of team effort.  
  • If you value creativity, you may be more tolerant of the mess that often accompanies inspiration & imagination.
  •  If you value neatness, you may not like children to be messy.

Mention that values determine how we run our programs and how teachers run their classrooms.

Values also determine how your staff feels about one another and how you feel about teamwork.

“Relying on others promotes the goals of the team.”  This is what teamwork is all about. One for all and all for one!   In America society most of us are taught to rely on ourselves and to be very independent.  Unfortuniately

  • Unfortunately, this does not develop the best use of any one’s mind and gifts.

 We can learn a lesson about teamwork from geese

  • Think about how geese fly in a “V” formation.  Here is what happens:  As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow.  By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. 
  • That is your role as director or manager.  You have the power to create an atmosphere in your program that sets the stage for working together, for being a team.  When you work together you can accomplish so much more than if you work alone and do everything yourself. 
  • Many years ago, a renown teacher made this observation about the power of teachers & leaders.          

 “It is my approach that creates the climate.  It is my daily mood that makes the weather.  I possess a tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.  I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.  In all situations, it is my responses that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a person humanized or dehumanized.”
— Ham

Mention that directors, managers and teachers have the power to create an atmosphere in their programs. It can either be positive or negative. This is true when you’re working with children. 

Any quality initiative is difficult work. Our attitudes about the process can be positive or negative. When we work together and rely on each other, it moves the team forward. 

  • It’s important to have a positive attitude, even though there is lots of work to do.
  •  As members of a team, we need to work together to benefit all.

Let’s talk more about geese!  

  • When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone.  It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
  • If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go.  We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

This is excellent advice for staff in any program.  Directors and/or managers must set the stage for this kind of response to take place.

  The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.   We need to make sure our honking is encouraging.  In groups where there is encouragement, the projection is much greater.  The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and to encourage the heart and core values of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

  • If your program is going to go forward, it you’re going to be the kind of program that becomes a place where everyone loves to come every day, you must be supportive of everyone. You must be encouraging.
  • You want to be encouraging in your program. You want staff to encourage one another. You want them to head together in the right direction.

A final thought from the geese is appropriate.

  • Here is a final principle from the geese. Nature has set them up to be a very good example for our own teamwork.
  • We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater.  The power of encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and to encourage the heart and core values of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Essential Practices of Effective Teams

These are the important things to do to make sure you create an effective team.  If directors and program managers will take these actions on as necessary, you will soon have a team that is working together effectively!  


Best of luck as you develop an amazing team.

  • Create an atmosphere for open communication & respect for others’ ideas
  • Give open & honest feedback – tell it like it is
  • Define goals & assignments
  • Clearly resolve disagreements
  • Clarify the decision-making process – Who’s in charge – when, or what occasions?  Remember the director/manager doesn’t always have to be in charge.  But folks need to know who is in charge!
  • Share leadership
  • Continuously evaluate team progress and function