Home / Collections / Building educator team culture

Building educator team culture

Highly effective educator teams don’t leave their team culture to chance. They know that trusting relationships are the foundation for the work they do together in support of students, and they build relationships with intentionality.

Relationships come first

Clinical Assistant Professor and Senior Program Strategist Kelly Owen shares advice for educators interested in adopting a team-based approach.

These resources were created in collaboration with Blue Engine, an organization that partners with schools, districts, and education organizations to ensure that educators can effectively collaborate and individualize instruction for every learner–regardless of race, income level, or learning style.

Gaining a deeper understanding of your team members

These two activities invite team members to gain a deeper understanding of one another, including backgrounds and context for teamwork. “Story of self” asks team members to respond to questions about their background, education, hobbies and more, and then share with the team. In the “River of life” project, team members create maps that capture key life experiences and share their maps with the team. Try one or the other with your team to kick off (or deepen) relationship-building. Note: “Story of self” is the more prescriptive of the two.

Story of self    River of life 

Establishing communication and working styles norms

This activity offers team members an opportunity to reflect on and share with each other what it takes for them to feel balanced, how they prefer to process information, what they need most from their team and more.  After reflecting and sharing, team members will work together to create norms for communication and working styles.


Establishing norms for managing conflict

During this activity, educator team members reflect on their preferences for managing conflict and work together to agree on norms for healthy conflict as a team.