Why Teams are Important

What is Teaming, and why is it important at Tolland Middle School?

The students of Tolland Middle School benefit from being on “teams” or rather being served by “teams” of teachers for their core subjects; two at each of the grade levels. This means that students are scheduled as if they went to one of six“small” schools. Students on a team go to only the teachers on their team for their core subjects. Teams have names like Team 7 Blue, Team 7 Gold, etc. The literature suggests that the smaller the schools, and the smaller the classes, the better the probability of good instruction and successful students. By teaming, we create a “schools within a school” model, and therefore create a “smaller” school environment. Each team has about 100 students each. This means that a student experiences this school of almost 600 students, as if s/he were in a school of about 100 students.

Students have classes “on team” and then have “rotation” classes, “off team.” The “off team” classes are typically the UA classes, and it is during this time, when the students are in their “off team” or UA classes, that the team teachers are able to meet and discuss the students, the data, the curriculum, and strategies for helping students and special populations succeed.

Although we have worked hard to create a cost-effective scheduling model, the losses over the last few years have simply been too great. We cannot sustain a loss of more teachers without threatening the team structure. If the team structure is lost, TMS will revert to what was abandoned many years ago as a failing model of educating early adolescents (Jackson & Davis, 2000). A “Junior High” model and not a “Middle” model of education would have to be established, meaning we would have fewer periods, no time for teachers to meet to discuss students in teams, students will slip through the cracks in math and reading as the reduced schedule will not provide remediation or enrichment time, and teachers will be assigned duties (most likely study halls). Duties are a terrible waste because instead of educational professionals using their professional time to meet in teams to discuss students, analyze data, and provide remediation and enrichment, they will instead be assigned “duties” like study halls and lunch duties. Middle Schools moved away from the Junior High model as a result of research and literature such as Turning Points, and Turning Points 2000.