When you walk into a classroom, how do you know if it’s effective or not? What characteristics do you look for?
Different people look for different things depending on what exactly they are assessing. I am usually in a STEM classroom, so I am specifically looking for the characteristics that create and foster a great STEM experience. Over the years, I’ve curated an unofficial list of characteristics that I think create the most positive, effective, and productive environments for students and teachers.
In successful, effective STEM Classrooms, one trait that I always see is teamwork. I mean true teamwork. Not just having students grouped in “teams” of 4 or so. Or assigning each student a job (although that helps and is a great management technique).
Witnessing true teamwork is inspiring. To see students actually helping and supporting each other is remarkable.
So how do you create this atmosphere in your classroom? According to our friends over at ASCD, teachers can help students acquire these skills by remembering an acronym. Ironically, that acronym is TEAM:
Teach– Teach teamwork skills early in the year by focusing on the skill of teamwork, not the content. Save Fred is one of my all time favorites.
Everyone, Every day, Everywhere– Once students understand how to be a valuable contributor to a team and how to support their teammates, students should be practicing those qualities all the time.
Assess– Just with any content skill we teach, we need to be constantly assessing our progress and addressing any setbacks so that we can get back on the right track!
Modify– For students who have trouble working in teams, provide added support to help them work well with others instead of moving them to a new team.