When I think ‘team’ I imagine a group of people who are working together. There may be a formal leader in the group, and the group would have a long-term relationships working on various tasks and solving problems together. In my (ELT) reality such teams exist at a school or institution (a group of teachers) or at a training course (a group of trainers) or it can be a curriculum design (materials developing) group. As a freelance ELT-er, however, I don’t necessarily have such a team on a regular basis: we work together for several weeks, sometimes months, and then move on with our other project(s). I could be working in more than one team once month, and then completely ‘solo’ in the other two, etc. For a long time I really liked this temporary nature of the things I am working on (see this post about ‘Co-Creating’ written a couple of years ago).
I realized recently that I need a team of a different kind: a thinking team. It can be group of people with whom we meet from time to time to talk about the projects we are working on, or struggling with, or have an idea to launch but not sure if it is worth doing, or discuss other questions.
I re-listened this TED Talk by Eduardo Briceno about getting better at the things people care about and one of the central ideas is having a safe low-stake Learning Zone (as opposed to ‘Performance Zone’) where professionals can make mistakes, experiment, try something out, brainstorm, etc. This can be definitely done on one’s own (as I think the examples in the talk describe) but to me, the pandemic year highlighted the need and importance of doing this in a community (of reflective practice). So what if…
… there is an ELT Job-Alike Group (or a duo, trio, etc.) where freelancing ELT-ers are ready to spend 40-60 minutes of their time with me on Zoom (for example) talking about a specific topic?
… there is a topic and 3-4 questions about it (will share an example), and will be sharing our answers, listening to each other, asking critical questions, editing (e.g. slides), etc.
… there are people doing two or more of what I do (e.g., teaching training, trainer coaching, course design, curriculum development, presenting, grant managing, writing/editing, ideating, creating, experimenting…)
… we may choose to record our chat to think in more depth about the content, but not for sharing with the ‘wider audience’. I really want to emphasize the ‘Learning Zone’ not the ‘performing’ (so not a podcast or ‘live chat’ on social media).
What thoughts do you have? Does it sound like an idea you would like to think about? Drop a line in the comments here or on Twitter and who knows, we may talk about this on a Zoom call! [For example, I am preparing a session about Reflective Practice for other trainers and would love to ‘test drive’ it with friendly colleagues].
I would like to finish off with this
and state the obvious: any community of like-minded colleagues is a chance to feel human within the jobs we are doing, to listen to each other and be heard, exchange and improve ideas, ask questions, feel fine about not knowing the answers or having doubts.
Thank you for reading! 🙂
P.S. I have been thinking about sharing my thoughts about a team for a year or so, but what inspired me to actually hit the ‘Publish’ button was a module from the Course ‘Writing to Inspire Self-Reflection – Journaling and Poetry for Teachers‘. I am taking the course now, and you may hear about it in my future posts.