Leadership with Teamwork
Authored by: Scotch College: Simon Arnott and Jarvis Banfield
Teamwork skills are qualities and abilities that enable you to work well with others during conversations, projects, meetings and/or other collaborations. We have identified five key teamwork skills that we believe are exhibited in the daily life of a Scotch College education. These are: Communication, Listening, Collaboration, Leadership, and Problem Solving. As a Baraza group we decided these five main concepts are core values of teamwork at Scotch College. We will link these to five integral parts of the College: House Involvement, Co-curricular, Boarding, Sports and Connections with Staff.
COMMUNICATION AND HOUSE INVOLVEMENT
At Scotch College we link the concept of communication to the vertical pastoral care system involving 10 House groups. For each House to function efficiently, a great deal of communication must take place; this involves the House Head, students, the Leadership Team, and the creation of teams for certain events. Most students maintain a strong connection with their House Head because, if they are ever struggling or need help, their House Head is the person that they can rely on to communicate their problems to. As well as the House Head, the House Leadership Team (made up of four leaders) also plays a major part in communicating with the rest of the students in the House.
The Leadership Team has meetings with the House Head where they discuss upcoming events, as well as areas in the House that are going well, or need improving. Then at Whole House meetings, the Leadership Team communicates to the rest of the students in the House what is going on around the House and remind them of upcoming events. The Leadership Team must also communicate with the younger boys in the House regarding organising upcoming inter-house events such as water polo, indoor soccer or debating. The Leadership Team, as well as other Year 12 students, mentor and help the younger boys to prepare for their events. Without effective communication, the House system would not function as well as it does today.
LISTENING AND CO-CURRICULAR
The co-curricular domain is a diverse landscape that provides students with the opportunity to develop their listening skills. Listening to and understanding one another as students, and also as individuals, encourages longer and deeper relationships. There are a variety of relationships within a school environment, one of which is between staff and students. This positive and constructive relationship in turn leads to the students’ positive overall academic achievement and wellbeing. A relationship like this can only be developed through a foundation of active listening and trust. Students are provided with opportunities to voice their opinions and work as part of a team with the staff.
Events such as the R U OK? Week – and the underlying support provided by counsellors – help to further develop these skills among the students. The ethos is that students should be able to talk to any member of staff – or community member – when facing a problem. Active listening, and an understanding that it is okay to talk through problems, is a given at Scotch College. These understandings provide the foundation for the continued development of teamwork skills through listening.
COLLABORATION AND BOARDING
Annually Scotch College has over 130 boarding students on campus. An integral part of their development is their ability to collaborate with each other and the wider school community. A vertical system involves Year 9, 10, 11 and 12 boarding students living together in Clans. Academic progress, service activities and Clan interactions are just a sample of the activities that see boys working together to achieve goals and create a positive living and learning environment. Boarding students are also linked with day students through the vertical House system, and this again sees boys from different year groups working together to achieve a positive education experience.
LEADERSHIP AND SPORTS
Every student at Scotch College is involved in a compulsory sporting programme. This gives the students the opportunity to develop/display leadership skills in their chosen discipline. For all sporting teams to work effectively, there must be someone in control who leads the team to be the best they can be. At Scotch College, for younger years, this leadership is mainly seen through the coaches, instructing boys what to do, getting them pumped up to play, or giving them constructive feedback. But leadership is not only shown by the coaches, it is shown by the players. It is evident through conduct and sportsmanship. At Scotch College players display sportsmanship when they congratulate a teammate for doing something good, or encourage them when they make a mistake, or when they are the first to shake their opponent’s hand at the end of the match. These examples are many ways in which any player in a team can display leadership skills.
As you reach the older year groups, leadership becomes more formal. This is because boys are given set leadership positions such as Captain or Vice-Captain. These boys display leadership through their words and actions, and make sure that everyone in the team puts in their best effort.
PROBLEM SOLVING AND CONNECTIONS WITH STAFF
The interactions between staff and students are essential in building strong relationships and creating a nurturing environment. Student leaders work with the Headmaster and Senior Staff to create a learning environment that is both positive and challenging, but also achievable. To continue to build on the traditions of the past, the students establish themes and events and these need to be approved and ratified by staff. Leadership modelling from staff sets the tone of the school as the theme of stewardship continues throughout the college.
Discussing leadership in our Baraza Group gave us the opportunity to explore and connect the five teamwork skills (Communication, Listening, Collaboration, Leadership, and Problem Solving) and the five areas within our college (House Involvement, Sport, Boarding, the Co-curricular, and Connections with Staff). By identifying specific examples, we were able to explore the concept of leadership with teamwork at a greater depth, giving examples from our school context. This understanding and appreciation of teamwork in our context provides a lens through which we can compare different interpretations (drawn from other contexts) as part of this international research project.