My view on the case study group work moved from initial dread (Simon, 2019, 23 July) through to hope for a positive experience (Simon, 2019, August 9). In the end I feel this component has contributed to my developing practice of leadership and understanding how it relates to the role of the teacher librarian (TL).
In our first group effort, members stepped up as initiators, contributors, opinion seekers, elaborators, orienters and encouragers (Roberts, 2012; Simon, 2019, August 18, ). Donna Thurling (2019, September 22) suggested that perhaps groups should have been seeded with some dominators, blockers or aggresors (Roberts, 2012). I disagree because I think the value of the experience is the authentic nature of the situation. Negotiating with real people rather than just roles or scenarios gave insight for my practice of leadership as a TL. Evaluating real-life reactions to my initiation (Simon, 2019, August 18) or hanging back (Simon, 2019, September 9) developed my understanding of how to effectively manage teams when leadership is distributed to me as TL.
I feel my group developed the trust and communication needed (Aguilar, 2012, November 28) to effectively complete our tasks as a team even as we sometimes struggled with the content and instructional efficacy of the tasks (Simon, 2019, September 9, para. 3; Simon, 2019, September 21, para. 2). Unfortunately, the formation of these groups does not follow the best practices of thoughtful group formation as discussed by Belbin (2010, pp. 100-103). Consequently, in our third group task when the task initiator set things up in a different way that caused confusion, we lost time. No-one really felt empowered to make a change or felt the designated authority to adjust a structure that had been created by someone else – even when they found it difficult to effectively work within that structure (Simon, 2019, September 21, para. 2). While team members demonstrated characteristics such as trust, respect, and creating a supportive environment (Moir, Hattie, & Jansen, 2014, p.37), we lacked the overarching vision leadership of a transformational leader. We also experienced a pitfall of servant leadership (a key style for the TL role) – a focus on maintaining relationships to the potential detriment of producing output (Burkus, 2010, April 1, para. 4). This experience will inform my crafting of groups and balancing of relational vs task leadership when leading teams at school.
I felt that the practical application of and reflection upon group, team and leadership theory through the formation and task completion in the online working groups was its most beneficial aspect. However, the case study scenario tasks also offered value. It was helpful to practice and observe the application of theories such as Zbar, Marshall and Powers’ (2007) performance management or Bender’s (2005) chains of communication to practical scenarios (Group 9, 2019, August 18). I found it more useful to me, though, when I could apply my theoretical learning to real-life scenarios in the general module activity forums, such as my response on the Program Adoption thread in the Module 3 Week 4 (3.1) forum (Simon, M., 2019, August 10). I am currently implementing my learning about leadership and team formation as I explore leading a project to create a collaborative research task between my school’s Year 6 students and students from a local high school.
Bender, Y. (2005). The tactful teacher: Effective communication with parents, colleagues and administrators. Chicago, IL: Nomad Press. Retrieved from ProQuest Ebook Central.
Burkus, D. (2010, April 1). Servant leadership theory [Blog post]. In DB: David Burkus. Retrieved from http://davidburkus.com/2010/04/servant-leadership-theory
Eberly Center Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). How can I assess group work?. In Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved from https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/teach/instructionalstrategies/groupprojects/assess.html
Group 9. (2019, August 18). Case Study Group 9 [Discussion forum post]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42385_1&conf_id=_78888_1&forum_id=_164190_1&message_id=_2432117_1&nav=discussion_board_entry
Moir, S., Hattie, J. & Jansen, C. (2014). Teacher perspectives of ‘effective’ leadership in schools. Australian Educational Leader, 36(4), 36-40. Retrieved from http://www.minnisjournals.com.au/acel/Roberts, R. (2012, September 12). How identifying the different roles can help groups work better together [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://elt-resourceful.com/2012/09/12/how-identifying-the-different-roles-we-play-can-help-groups-work-better-together/
Roberts, R. (2012, September 12). How identifying the different roles can help groups work better together [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://elt-resourceful.com/2012/09/12/how-identifying-the-different-roles-we-play-can-help-groups-work-better-together/
Simon, M. (2019, August 10). Re: Running record program change [Discussion forum post]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_42385_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_78888_1&forum_id=_164198_1&message_id=_2336715_1
Thurling, D. (2019, September 22). Case study group work… One happy family [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/donnajourney/2019/09/22/78/
Zbar, V., Marshall, G. & Power, P. (2007). Better schools, better teachers, better results: a handbook for improved performance management in your school. Retrieved from Informit.