Teaching is a team sport

By Greg Whitby, 27 June 2018


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

There is a common expression in sporting circles that the best team is only as a good as its weakest player. So building the competence and skills of the weakest player makes good sense. Thinking about this in an educational context, we know that an ineffective teacher can have a big impact not only on his or her students but also on the school.

The most successful schools have moved on from the days of teachers working in isolation, hidden away in their own classrooms oblivious to the goals of the school. Effective teaching is a team sport where each member accepts responsibility and shares accountability for learning successes and failures.

Teachers work in an environment where the focus has to always be on learning. Teachers are learners themselves and they learn from each other, from their students and from reflecting on the effectiveness of their own teaching. The best teachers recognise that in order to contribute to the success of the team, they must be committed to improving their own skills. Schools become great teams when they work collaboratively and cooperatively, and not when teachers are working in isolation.

When a school or even an individual student has a problem, it should be everyone’s responsibility to try to fix it. It is the work of the team to bring everything they have to the table – to share their collective wisdom and skills to ensure every student achieves success. Collaboration, mutual support and ongoing dialogue are the keys to improving the quality of learning and teaching.

It is in the interests of every student, every teacher and every parent that schools invest in building the skills, knowledge and capabilities of every teacher, regardless of how good they are. We need effective teachers in every classroom not effective teachers in some classrooms.

Legendary Brazilian soccer player Pele said it best: “A team is not made up of isolated individuals. Success depends on your whole team being a single unit.”

Greg Whitby

Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


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