A team of teachers from a large school for vocational education had slowly but surely come to a standstill... It was difficult to pinpoint the exact cause - everyone had different explanations. But it was clear to all that there was a problem. Student evaluations were negative. Performance criteria were structurally not being met. And people’s joy in teaching and working together was at an all-time low.
The team leader asked for a short process intervention that would help to get things moving in the right direction again. A positive turn of events. On which the team could build in the new school year.
As a start, we put aside all quality management reports, formal team plans and formats. Instead, we focused on the teachers and their mutual connections. Colleagues were invited to engage in ‘Big Bang’ interviews: 'Tell me about the moment in which you felt for the first time: ‘this is why I became a teacher’? What does that story unveil about your professional drive? And do you recall a recent moment in which this drive was visible and tangible in your daily work? What happened then and how did you make it happen?'
Together, we made a history line: the team’s own story, laid out in the form of anecdotes and milestones on a brown paper. Team members could look at their story with fresh eyes and think about the question: what do we want as the next step in our development? The teachers also made a ‘wall’ of compliments for each other: naming each other’s strengths and why they felt these were valuable to the team and its work.
Slowly but surely, the energy level picked up and confidence in the team increased. Even with the team leader, who at first found it challenging to work in such an open-ended way: would it lead to ‘the right’ concrete results?
The second day and the third (half) day were all about looking ahead: what would everyone like to work on? In small groups, the 20 teachers coined concrete action plans.
The team left the third meeting with tangible results: a new format for team meetings, structures for keeping better track of student performance and a different set-up for the introductory week... In addition, the atmosphere was noticeably more positive – as was the feeling of connection. Everyone left for vacation in good spirits.
Upon return after the summer, all plans were swiftly implemented – after which the team itself designed a next round of improvement ideas. Continuing on the path of positive development.