A Message from Marlene
By the time this newsletter arrives in your mailbox a new school year will have been well under way for students across the U.S., hopefully ready for some great days of learning and fun! I came across an article recently which discussed something called the “Aristotle Project”. Evidently in its search to optimize its teams, Google, in 2012, launched the Aristotle Project to research and document what causes a team to be successful. It turns out that after reviewing existing research and collecting lots of data on their own teams it was almost impossible to find patterns or team compositions that made any difference in effectiveness. Instead, what distinguished good teams from dysfunctional teams was how members of a team treated one another. The researchers concluded that what made a team effective was “psychological safety” where teams exhibited interpersonal trust and mutual respect. Effective teams had two norms:
1. Everyone was part of the conversation with no one dominating.
2. Team members had high social sensitivity, skilled at intuiting how other team members were thinking or feeling.
Having worked as part of a team for most of my career, this isn’t a big surprise to me. Think of your own experience with teams that you’ve been a part of, whether professionally, volunteering, or socially. What was your experience?
As we in education talk more and more about preparing our students to be global citizens who can think critically, collaborate, create and communicate, the modeling of team behavior among staffs and within classrooms is something that we can’t afford to neglect.
I am an avid student of what makes effective leaders and over the years one of my roles has been to consult with organizations that were having issues moving forward. In the most difficult cases it required that one or more of the leadership team left. In other cases, it required a simple realigning of teams with the development of new skills to move forward.
I like to think of Jesus and his disciples as one of the first teams in the church. Jesus was the epitome of a good team leader. He listened, he was empathic, he understood the personalities of those around him and he fostered a climate of respect, love and tolerance (even when Peter shot his mouth off).
So as you continue your school or work year remember the two norms found by Google really aren’t rocket science and they really aren’t too hard to do if we consider others as valuable and important members of our teams.
Blessings as the year unfolds
CUEM Board of Directors Meet to Set New Directions
The CUEM Board of Directors met for two days in September to revisit our vision and mission and to make plans for the future. We reaffirmed our vision “to equip and connect Lutheran and faith based urban leaders to transform educational programs into sustainable and evolving excellence”. To that end, we have set new goals and are working towards a structure which will facilitate the goals. Thanks to a dedicated and committed group of people!
S.M.I.L.E. Project (Strategic Minds Innovating Lutheran Education)
CUEM is beginning its second year working with schools who are interested in transforming from traditionally based schools to those in which students are empowered to have greater control over the time, path and place of their own learning. To that end, we will be gathering from November 3—5 in NYC with Lutheran schools that have been implementing a new approach to teaching and learning and with schools which will be joining the project. During the three days we will visit Astoria Lutheran School, which has implemented a Project Based Learning approach; participate in a conference sponsored by the Lutheran Schools Association which will offer a track on blended learning; and finally spend time planning for each teams’ next steps in moving forward in their transitions. For more information on S.M.I.L.E. please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education
We are now seeking nominations for the 2017 Lester R. Bayer Award for Excellence in Urban Education. The award which was established in honor of Dr. Bayer, one of the founders of the Center for Urban Education Ministries, recognizes those highly successful in operating innovative and effective urban education programs. Churches, schools and social service agencies involved in education are eligible to apply. Nominations are due at the CUEM office no later than October 31, 2016 and should include:
- Organization name, address, phone number and website.
- Name and contact information for organization’s director or leader.
- A one page statement describing the work of the organization or program.
- A one page statement outlining why the organization should receive the Bayer Award
- Letters of support for the nomination are encouraged.