Research Paper (postgraduate), 2008
TO MY soul mate
Who strengthened my reflections and reinforced my research skills to understand emotional intelligence in the field of everyday life.
This qualitative study investigates and develops an in-depth understanding of teamwork in a Government Girls Higher Secondary School Karachi. The study was conducted to gain a qualitative insight into teamwork process. Exploring how team(s) work in the school, and what consequences they lead to. This thesis argues that teamwork is an effective dimension which bridges the gaps between teachers and management. The study focuses on the Management Team, how it works, and how it influences other teams. The Management Team work described in four areas: origin of teamwork, the Management Teams activities, teachers and students’ perceptions about teamwork and the consequences of teamwork.
The study was contextual which required the qualitative case study paradigm. Interviews and observations were the main methods of data collection. It has analyzed the data using grounded theory development approach. The study was conducted in a Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Karachi. The primary research participants were three members of the Management Team (headmistress, two teachers), while secondary research participants were two teachers, and two students who were not involved in the Management Team.
The major findings of the study are: Teamwork leads to collectivism, develops a caring relationship, enhances commitment to school, and tends to lead to distributed leadership.
The study offers insights for school headteachers/headmistress, educational manager and teachers. It points out the importance of working together in improving school collaborative culture, building teams, and distributing task. The thesis also highlights teamwork effectiveness in terms of teachers’ involvement in the school management.
Like many other developing countries, Pakistan is continuously struggling to improve and uplift the quality education, and particularly school management. In this regard, many education reforms and innovations to improve the quality of school management in the government sector have been introduced, but these reforms turned unsuccessful due to various reasons. One of the essential factors that being the individualistic approach in school management. Memon (2000) states, mostly, the heads of departments and organizations tend to serve as boss which creates power culture in the system. Therefore, in general the government schools are regarded traditional schools, because of, for example, non-collegial environment, gaps between teachers and headteacher, lack of commitment, traditional ways of teaching, teacher centered classes, authoritarian administration and so on. Harris (2002) argues that “In many schools the norms of practices are not those of collaboration or mutual sharing but tend to be isolation or balkanization” (p. 103). More particularly, the government schools are seen as more individualistic than collaborative.
On the other hand, my teaching experiences are altogether different, which strengthen my beliefs in effective teamwork. In my context (Turbat Balochistan), I found that stakeholders working together as a team for school improvement. Furthermore, during my Master of Education (M.Ed) course I visited some schools in Karachi, where I found the stakeholders were working together and had a supportive environment. In fact, whatever the government school systems are blamed for, it cannot be generalized for every government school. There are government schools which have collaborative environment, the sense of belongingness and strong co-ordination among stakeholders. Some literature also supports the same views, for instance, Retalick and Datoo (2005) found that, “Some schools in the government sector have shown positive change and are perceived by their local communities as successful schools” (p. 2).
This study—an exploratory study in nature, it looked at a government school in Karachi and studied its working style through studying teamwork. The literature on effective schools often leads us to conclude that the successful schools are those where every individual puts in his/her maximum effort in terms of collaboration. The success cannot happen through individuals, but through collective efforts, through teamwork. Numerous studies argue that teamwork leads schools to more effectiveness as Jo, O. L. (1996), for example, states,
Teams have several positive effects. First, the more people involved in making a decision, the more likely that decision will be implemented. Second, team members continually learn from one another's fresh ideas. Third, more and better information and actions come from a group of people with various resources and skills. Fourth, there is a better chance that mistakes will be caught and corrected. And finally, risk-taking is more likely because of the collective power of the group.
Furthermore, teams are led by leaders and leaders are responsible to build leadership qualities among team members. Through an effective team and teamwork it is possible to grow effective school. Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005) believe, a strong leadership team is the natural end result of a purposeful school. Thus, this study explores this thesis in a government secondary school in Pakistan.
Government school systems are seen as lacking in commitment, co-ordination among stakeholders with no teamwork. Memon (2000) states, present education management structure lacks the co-ordination and accountability within the department and across the departments. The lack of co-ordination, commitment and no evidence of teamwork in government schools is a big issue which has been discussed many at times in the educational debates, educational lecture programs, and educational dialogues in Pakistan. Literature supports that poor co-ordination between the various levels within the school is an issue raised repeatedly (Aga Khan University Institute for Educational Development, 2003).
Nevertheless, my experience with government schools has to a large extent been rather different, in that I have worked with teams in schools and my visits to various government schools, has also been varied. So, I argue with myself, if government schools are devoid of teamwork, how can some government schools have team and work so well? This question led me to explore in government school which have a practice of teamwork which led to better performance of student learning. Hollingsworth (2004) argues, teams provide a way of organizing a school community, creating job enlargement, and job rotation. Teams potentially offer more active involvement in higher level decision-making, supporting the sharing of complex and demanding school management tasks, and (Wallace & Hall, 1994) team also help teachers to improve classroom outputs. A team is not a group of individuals who are just working at the same workplace, job and position.
A team is considered a group of individuals, having a shared vision, common goals and objectives, and everyone is responsible to achieve the vision. Senge, Ross, Kleiner and Roberts (1994) state, the team can come to a mutual understanding, shared responsibilities, plan what to work, how to work, and finally, there is coordinated action which is not joint action it is carried out independently by various members of the team. Moreover, numerous studies and reviews reveal some practical success factors which emphasize the importance of people participation and partnership, ongoing process of development, strengthening stakeholders’ role in building shared vision, building team’s supports interdependence, goal specification, values, norms, deep dialogue, and motivation in order to achieving the school vision (See Yu, 2005; Scholtes & Peter, 1998). However, such practical success is largely attributed to headteacher, who collect the people and work with them sequentially, build a teamwork culture in the school. Farah, et al. (1996) suggests that school improvement depends on the ability of school heads to build internal teamwork, focusing on commitment to share educational goals and the ability to help students achieve them. Kizilbash (1998) argues that change is inspired by emotion and nurtured by confidence and trust. He further states,
Good relationships are needed before an attempt is made to create a structure of development. Emphasis on teamwork and inspirational leadership will help teachers to become part of the process of change. Head teachers must play an important role in this and need to be trained first in team building, reflection, and the collaborative culture (p. 133).
Thus, establishing a collaborative culture requires building teams that work for the betterment of the schools. Retallick and Datoo (2005) suggest that “first steps in the process will usually focus on building teams of teachers working together” (p.8). In this regard, literature recommends that we need to investigate how teams work and what results they lead to (Chrispeels, Castillo, & Brown, 2000). The study will explore teamwork process in the school and how team(s) work in a Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Karachi in terms of making school more successful.
The research question explores the process of teamwork in a Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Karachi. The study presents a case of government school where the significant resources and opportunities are available and stakeholders are working together for school success. I believe this account will have significant implication for teamwork studies in Pakistan.
Furthermore, the findings of this study will be useful for the educational leaders, managers and policymakers in government sector of Pakistan. This study is some significant to those developing countries where the socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds are similar to Pakistan. According to my experiences, no studies have systematically explored the process of teamwork in a government secondary school in Pakistan. This study contributes toward the research knowledge on secondary school teamwork process, challenges, and decision making ways leading to school effectiveness. Moreover, there is a dearth of studies conducted in the developing world and especially in Pakistan (Simkins, Garrett, Memon & Ali, 1998). This study explores the stereotypes of government schools which are generally labeled as individualistic where no collaboration takes place among stakeholders of the school. This study brings to fore some good practice with regard to teamwork.
Finally, the study will benefit me as a researcher, and as a future educational leader involved in the school improvement. It will give me an opportunity to reflect on, and learn from, the headmistress, and teachers working in teams. Further, it would help me share my learning ultimately, with a larger audience in my own context where I am supposed to play my future role as an educational leader.
How do team(s) work in a Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Karachi?
1 How does the school develop teams?
2 How do teams work, and what consequences do they lead to?
3 How do team members and others (teachers, & students) perceive teamwork?
I reviewed the literature concerning team, teamwork, team development models, and impact of teams with the aim of exploring my study in two contexts: developing and developed countries. Due to the lack of literature on team, and teamwork in the developing countries, I expand my review to include general studies on teamwork process and school management. However, in this context, from the developed countries, I have selected from rich literature on teamwork, keeping in view the major areas of my study which are: team formation, teamwork process, team development, and consequence they lead to.
The literature discussed in three sections. The first one investigates the team and team development in the context of school management. The second begins with team development, followed by an analysis body of literature related to my study’s focus. The third, reviews the teamwork outcomes. Finally, a brief summary will conclude major findings from literature review with regard to the focus of my study, i.e., teamwork process.
The rapid growth of studies on teamwork and its implications over the past many years reflects a growing interest in teamwork process. Hollingsworth (2004) for example, reviewed literature and highlighted many positive features of teams within schools. Teams are a major influencing factor towards bringing the people together and achieving common goals. Berge (1998) describes that “a team is a group of individuals working together to achieve common goals through collaborative decision-making and investigation—it is any group of people who need each other to accomplish a result successfully” (p. 194). Thus, literature argues that teams are building blocks of effective schools (see Hall, 2001; Leithwood, 1998; Quinn & Restine, 1996; Sallis, 1996; Staniforth & West, 1995; and Fullan, 1992). Moreover, teams are the platform where school administration and teachers can bridge the gaps while working together.
It seems that in teamwork process, mutual understanding, decision-making, team leadership quality, and the contextual realities are significant, therefore teamwork needs to be explored. Additionally, West-Burnham (1992a) stresses that teams need to be nurtured and developed if they are to be an effective vehicle for organizing work. He argues,
There is a substantial gap between labeling a group a team and creating an effective work team which is able to function in a total quality environment. Too often team are established and expected to operate simply by virtue of having delegated tasks—little consideration is given to the way in which the team functions (p. 125).
In particular, a school with effective teams in existence challenges the notion that leadership is the exclusive domain of those in formal leadership positions and supports greater autonomy and broader contributions from across the whole school community.
In short, literature argues teams implant the ideas of the people towards common goals through collaborative decision making. Literature also emphasis on collective efforts in order to maintain a collegial school environment and principal is seen as key agent to collect the people together.
Team building is achieved by a variety of methods and approaches and it is the process of enabling a group of people to reach their objectives. It is an ongoing process that helps a work group to develop into cohesive unit. It also helps a group of people to quickly become an effective team, and remain effective. Furthermore, team development is an effort in which a team studies its process of working together which, as a result, increases the personal growth of the individuals. The net effect is that individuals are now required to move between many different groups of people in their working and also in their personal lives.
Martinez (2004) states “making of a successful team starts when the team members understand the objective and agree with it” (p.52). According to Bell (1992, p. 53), there are four central factors in the development of successful
The objectives of the team should be clearly understood by all team members,
Procedures for decision-making and planning should involve all team members,
All members should be clear about team processes—what has to be done, by who, with what resources, and
The team should review its work regularly as part of a development process.
In a nutshell, team development models are effective towards evaluating the teams and making them more effective. The stages of team modes indicate where team is standing, and how it moves to next stage. Furthermore, it also endorsed that every stage of team process largely depends on collaborative action.
The changing time needs changing working style, therefore team and teamwork is becoming fostering factor for school effectiveness. Chivers (1995) states, “quite simply, there is too much to do and too little time to do it in” (p.1). School reform needs collaborative action in terms of diversity of the people who are working in the school. School reforming is a large part, a matter of enlisting and empowering the people in them to reshape how they think, feel, and act (Bath, 1991; Fullan & Hargeaves, 1991 cited in Jr. Donaldson and Sonderson, 1996). Diversity among people is mutually enriching source of strength (Nias & colleague cited in Stoll & Fink, 1996). Indeed, working together or teamwork definition, Bell (1992) identifies a group of individuals working together towards some common purpose and, in doing so, achieving more than they could achieve alone. Martinez (2004) states “people working together are more effective than a collection of individuals working alone” (p. 5).
School culture plays an important role in order to nurture teams and teamwork. The review of the literature (Stoll, 1998; Stoll & Fink, 1996; Whitaker, 1993; Southwest Educational Development Laboratory1999) shows that the culture is described somewhat differently. The synthesis is that culture is seen as assumptions, values, norms, attitudes, rituals, language, beliefs, symbols, ceremonies, preferred behaviors, and stances shared by the members of an organization or school. Memon and Bana (2005) suggest that every school stakeholder should reflect together, learn together, inquire together and care together in order to transform school into a learning community.
However, Gronn (2002) says the consequences of the teams are not always good and the sprit of teamwork does not appear abruptly. Whereas, when teachers work together in the context of teams and develop a shared belief that their team can be effective and its tasks are valuable and important for the organization (Guzzo et al., 1993). They have a greater sense of belonging and identification with objectives of their school (Godard, 2001) which helps foster performance. While, Little (1990) greater argues that the result of teachers strong collegial relations is greater work interdependence and less isolation, resulting in a greater sense of teamwork. According to Goddard, Hoy and Hoy (2004) cited in Marzano, Waters, and McNulty (2005), the collective worth of the teachers in a school is a better predicator of student success in schools than is the socioeconomic status of the students and collective effectiveness is the shared belief that “we can make a difference”. Martinez (2004) states, “teamwork does not happen automatically” (p. 48). It requires willingness and consistency.
In Figure .1, I present a summary of some of the relevant empirical studies from developed countries. I have selected these studies because of their conceptual and theoretical relevance to my study. I list them in the table in order of team, team models, teamwork and key findings. These studies focus on team, teamwork, and its consequences on school context.
Literature identifies team as two or more than two people working together with the common goals. Teamwork process is regarded as disciplined work that provides a frame of reference for the whole school. The teamwork is an evolving process which contains different stages, as team models described in literature review. This ongoing process helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. Therefore, teamwork outcomes are generally regarded as an effective outcome, but it largely depends on team members’ incorporating activities, building strong relationship, mutual trust and encouragement to each other. Establishing such a culture in the school needs continuous efforts of headteacher/headmistress to play a role of a bridge between teachers and management. The primary focus of building a collaborative culture appears to accept and give opportunities to others and involve them in leadership position. With this background of literature, I have explored my study looking at team formation or building, nature of its work, and consequences it leads to, in a Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Karachi.
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