Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Group Norming

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast."- Peter Ducker

This quote begins the 5th chapter in Elena Aguilar's book The Art of Coaching Teams. 

Image result for art of coaching teams

No matter how great our agenda or ability to deliver content, if there is not a foundation of trust or a productive culture put in place, we will not get very far.

I participated in a book study with my #pln following the #educoach group. I have found a plethora of valuable information to help lead teams more efficiently. This aligns well with my new role in which I am facilitating 6 team meetings a month around the area of literacy; I also will continue to facilitate our district ELA Content Leadership Team once a month. 

To begin the year, the math coach and I co-facilitated norming meetings with the grade levels we share. We felt this was a great way to show the staff that we are a team, not math/literacy silos. We also felt strongly that norms for the groups should not change if the facilitator is different. The math coach and I wanted to be a part of the norming process, so everyone has buy-in. Aguilar says, "Norms are effective when a team determines them together and when their meaning is clear to all members."

To guide the process, we modified the agenda from Aguilar's book in which she shared an example of a Norm building meeting. 

Here is our common agenda;

  • Welcoming
  • Agenda Overview

Generating Our Norms
  • Surfacing previous experience
  • Hopes for today
  • Brainstorming

Clarifying and Classifying our Norms
  • Select and share
  • Clarify
  • Organize our brainstorm
  • Narrowed list we all can live with
  • Voting


  • Reflection
  • Feedback
  • Appreciations

The feedback we got was that most teachers found this valuable. They liked that they had time to think independently on what norms they thought were important first, and then come together as a group to see patterns and come to a common consensus. 

Here are some of the norms teams found valuable
Keep children as our focus
Treat each other with respect
Be present both physically & mentally
Practice respectful tech/phone use
We will use our time wisely, starting and ending our meetings on time
Invite and welcome the contributions of every member & listen to each other
Be solution-orientated and forward thinking
Respect other’s ideas
Be open to possibilities and other’s thinking; ask questions to clarify
Assume positive intent
Be present mentally and physically
Be prepared - complete assigned tasks, have data ready
Pay attention to heart and meaning
Speak directly to people about issues
Be solution oriented
Agree to disagree
Ask questions when in doubt
Ask direct questions to clarify issues
Use our time wisely and stay on task
Laugh, enjoy one another

Norms can offer enormous transformation potential. I look forward to working with these teams and getting to the work that centers on kids.