“It’s better to have a great team, than a team of greats.” – Simon Sinek

Have you ever been on a team in which one person is driving the agenda? Is it possible to create teams that promote inquiry that is owned by the entire team and not just a few players? Shared inquiry is the key to having teams that produce “stable gains in student learning” (Garmston & Wellman, 2016). Yet, in many teams tensions can develop when members feel that they are being judged or engage in judging others.

How do you avoid this?  I’ve found that when teams adopt the ‘Seven Norms of Collaboration”, or 7 P’s, from the Adaptive Schools Foundation Seminar they are far more likely to engage in shared inquiry.

Here are the 7 P’s:

  • Pausing:  Pause before responding or asking other questions to allow others to process and think. This allows for richer dialogue.
  • Paraphrasing: Use a starter like “You’re thinking…” or “So…” and then paraphrase to hear and understand other team members.
  • Posing Questions:  Ask questions to explore and clarify thethinking of other team members.
  • Putting Ideas on the Table: Label ideas before putting them out there; e.g., “Here is one idea…”
  • Providing Data: Use both qualitative and quantitative data to support members in creating a shared understanding of the work.
  • Paying Attention to Self & Others: Be in tune with the learning styles of others when facilitating and participating in meetings.
  • Presuming Positive Intentions:  Assume the intentions of each team member are positive to facilitate meaningful dialogue and eliminate unintentional put-downs.

As I am facilitating new teams, I teach these norms, do my best to model their use and continually ask the team to reference them while working together.   I am confident that team engagement with these norms will enhance any team’s work.

Garmston, R. J., & Wellman, B. M. (1999). The adaptive school: A sourcebook for developing collaborative groups. Norwood, Mass: Christopher-Gordon Publishers.