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The first thing the educator needs to know about team building will pleasantly surprise you

By Joanna Kats

The answer will be revealed towards the end. Let me start with a question: Do you know that on October 5 the International Teachers’ Day is observed? I find it really nice to celebrate the work of educators – our work, to support the efforts their students make, children and adults, to know themselves better; embrace life; find meaning in their daily routine; communicate with others; play their part in strengthening ties in the community that surrounds them. This is my understanding of the meaning of education.

Travelling to Italy for training

Observing the day, I can recall the time I participated in a European training programme for adult educators. Somewhere in Italy, one of my favourite travel destinations, I would meet up with colleagues from various countries in Europe to exchange viewpoints and concerns around communication methods and behavioural styles for adult educators. My colleagues came from England, Austria, Poland, Romania and Finland. In everyone’s suitcase there were different experiences and one wish, the same for all: to learn from others and with others.

I also think it is really nice to work with individuals who come from different cultures. While having a discussion, you learn to accept the positive elements of your identity; help others to understand your identity; listen attentively to others to understand them; acknowledge the positive traits of others; create a common basis for communication. I came to that conclusion while reading thoughts and concerns locked in the diary I kept around that time. Now that I am blogging, I have the opportunity to dust off memories kept alive in diaries and notebooks.

About team building

Back to Italy and the training programme. It is the second day of training and I am all set to listen attentively to my colleagues and keep as many notes as possible. In the high-ceilinged room with the round table in the middle, there is food for thought: coffee and biscuits, soft drinks and panini. On that day, we discuss a topic of great interest to me: team building.

For Ken Blanchard, author and management expert, “none of us is as smart as all of us.” I wonder how we educators can help our trainees to understand that the collective mind could be much more productive than the individual mind. And how we could help trainees who meet for the first time to understand individuals who come from different social, cultural and education backgrounds, in order to work and learn together.

Communication aims to create experiences rather than to transfer information

Diversity as a source of wealth

Communication means to create experiences

My colleague from Austria reminds us that communication aims to create experiences between individuals rather than to transfer information from one individual to another. “Create experiences,” this will come in handy in the future. This means that as educators, we need to find out what could bring trainees close enough to be willing to collaborate and participate in training: take part in discussions held; listen to others and encourage them to do the same; share their own truth.

Shared goals lead to joint action

Our trainer argues that when team members share goals, they pave the way to developing a spirit of cooperation and to cultivating functional relationships which are based on trust and truth. She is convinced that when individuals work towards realising shared goals, they are willing to cooperate, interact with each other and reach positive outcomes. My colleagues and I understand that if we wish our trainees to show their commitment to team goals, they need to enjoy a sense of belonging. A shared vision needs to be created for them, one they will be equally willing to achieve. How? By asking questions and making statements.

Our trainer goes on to explain that ideas created jointly by team members lead to joint action. She stresses that as educators, we can benefit from the group dynamics. How? By acknowledging that when individuals join a social group, they bring different values, skills and experiences, unite their talents and combine their strong personality characteristics. Something positive could stem from such combination.

Learning outcomes are better for group learning rather than for individual learning. When we educators work with groups, it is easier to transfer knowledge and skills to trainees and to enhance our own learning. Indeed, we learn with our trainees as well – in the diary.

Concluding

Well, which is the first thing that the educator, and every citizen, needs to know about team building? Here is the pleasant surprise: Communication aims to create experiences rather than to transfer information. Experiences embrace feelings ready to come to life. So, next week, we will be discussing the role of feelings, as well as the stages of team building.

Have a creative week!

A blogger friend, Joanna

Info

Photo of woman: Camil Tulcan

Main photo: At the local TOMS café

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