Term Paper: Dimensions of the Interactive Team

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[. . .] In order for a team to be effective, there must be a positive correlation between the goals of its respective members. The life cycle of a group reviewed in the last section points to the fact that the group initially goes through a transition whereby a sense of mutuality is discovered between respective goals that were thought to have nothing in common. The nature of communication climates is said to be duo fold; climates are either defensive or supportive. In the first of these climates, team members approach a group with a predetermined strategy and seek to engineer a decision that favors their goals. In a supportive climate, team members lack these pre-arranged mandates and the result reflects spontaneous order. The defensive climate is characterized by a feeling of superiority, whereas the more co-operative supportive climate is seen as egalitarian. In a mixed setting, supportive team members are more successful at establishing goals and mandates for future action.

The primary roles played in team meetings, according to a study cited by the author, are task, maintenance, and negative. Task roles and maintenance roles are considered constructive. Task-oriented people get things done, come up with new ideas, and acquire new information. Maintenance people offer moral support, focusing on the emotional tone of the meeting; we might see task roles as characteristic of the NT "rational" Kiersey temperament and maintenance roles as characteristic of the NF "idealist" temperament. Aggression, resistance, and a desire for unmerited recognition characterize negative roles. Consensus building is important in that the decision-making processes used to reach consensus will affect the team's functioning. Here a carefully delineated protocol prevents conflict.

Leadership styles. Here the authors note that people within the group who have nominal professional superiority are not necessarily the ones appointed as team leaders. In that such administrators cede power to appointed leaders, the authors believe that it is essential that the decision-making authority of the team remains intact. The authors cite three Leadership styles in conducting team meetings: authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire. Authoritarian and laissez-faire leadership styles are seen as comparably counter-productive extremes. Whereas the authoritarian leader assumes complete project ownership and undermines the nature of the team, the laissez-faire leader refrains from providing any responsibility and usually very little is accomplished. I feel that the authors neglect to mention the importance of the child's parent in a leadership situation. Regardless of whatever perspective predominates with respect to project ownership, I feel that the parent assumes ultimate authority over the welfare of the child unless such authority has been transferred to another guardian in accordance with conventional due process. In that the behavior of a child is problematic, the parent's influence could be said to often be in conflict with those of the school, especially if the parent is blamed for the child's activity.

Implementation procedures. The authors note that the procedures involved in implementing the interactive teaming process depend on the age of the child, severity of the problem and type of professionals available. The guidelines recommended by the authors are to: "encourage everyone to contribute during the discussion, including the person presenting the information; to reach consensus on the definition of the problem before discussing possible interventions; and to consider all factors that could be relevant to the problem before discussing possible interventions." (Thomas, pg. 89)

Commitment to common goals. Here the authors note that the team needs to adopt a commonality of objectives in order to remain effective. In doing so, I feel that they discount the ability of a group to constructively deconstruct a pre-existing conflict situation between parents and teacher, teacher and administrators, or professional care specialists and any one of these parties. The successful resolution of these problematic situations deserves special focus, as parent-teacher-school board relations are often characterized by personality clashes and disagreement. Although the chapter does make mention of the resolution of problems according to theoretical standards, I feel that it fails to note the interplay of these methodologies with the specific roles played by different authority figures that maintain a relationship with the child.

Overall, I feel that these are good guidelines for the establishment of an effective team. However, I feel that in many respects they are too generalist, and fail to reflect the specific requirements of problems that involve children and their successful upbringing. Colleen MacKinnon of the University of Vermont writes that: "Many public school advocates champion democratizing public education: Parents could participate in shaping their children's formal education, teachers could use extra adults in the classroom, and children could benefit from this collaboration." (MacKinnon, 2000. pg. 225) As I've mentioned, parental roles should be addressed specifically and in detail, due not only to legal details but because of the difference in knowledge of educational theory that is likely to have been mastered by the parents, vis-a-vis professional educators and specialists that regularly work with children. In other communities such as The Bronx where the Spanish-speaking population numbers in excess of 45% with an even higher proportion of Spanish-speaking children represented in the public schools, a translator may prove necessary yet may impede the effectiveness of a team.

Statistically, only 24.4% of the population of the United States over the age of 25 possesses a bachelor's degree or higher. (U.S. Census, 2000) Even among parents that possess bachelor's degrees, very few are education specialists. To complicate matters, states that afford parents the most responsibility over their children, usually located in the south and middle-west, are often the most likely to have uneducated parents. For instance, in Mississippi, the number of people who possess a BA or better at age 25 or older is an abysmal 16.9%. Only 72.9% of residents of the Magnolia state age 25 or older possess a high school education, indicating that a great number of them may lack the ability to comprehend the very nature of education. These factors, coupled with the empowerment parents in such areas enjoy with respect to determining their children's future changes the very dynamic of team-arrangement to one where knowledge passes from the aggregate of education specialists into the hands of the child's parent. This is a crucial step before an effective interactive team can be established.

Part 2. The use of media in the successful implementation of standards established for the interactive team.

In order to successfully create an interactive team, team members must ask themselves what they can do to make the team effective. Based on the ten dimensions illustrated in the text, I have developed an audit to determine whether or not a team is effective that may be distributed to team members for their careful reflection.

TEAM AUDIT: Is our team effective?

Questions for team members:

Is everyone participating?

Is participation distributed evenly or based on authority?

Are goals formed co-operatively?

Is power determined by ability and information or by position and obedience?

Is communication one way or two way?

Are feelings of team members being ignored?

Does decision-making match the situation?

Is there consensus on the important decisions being made?

Are conflicts being resolved?

Is anyone being ignored and divided? If so, what are some of the reasons given?

References

http://www.questia.com/PageManagerHTMLMediator.qst?action=openPageViewer&docId=80942431"(1997). Student-Centered Teams in Schools: Still in Search of an Identity. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 8(1), 3-20. Bailey, B.R., & Murray-Branch, J. (1993). Collaborative Communication Programming: Providing a Meaning-Based Curriculum to Students with Severe Multiple Disabilities. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 4(1), 29-47. MacKinnon, C.T. (2000). The Politics of Community Participation in a Public School. Educational Studies, 31(3), 225-248. Nevin, A. (1990). Collaborative Consultation: Empowering Public School Personnel to Provide Heterogeneous Schooling for All -- Or, Who Rang That Bell?. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 1(1), 41-67. Welch, M. (1998). The Idea of Collaboration in Special Education: an Introspective Examination of Paradigms and Promise. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 9(2), 119-142.

Carol Chase Thomas, Vivian Ivonne Correa, Catherine Voelker… [END OF PREVIEW]

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