Team schedules on time? A school shows how it is done

On this everyday January morning, a state of emergency broke out at the Green Comprehensive School. 20 of the approximately 100 teachers are ill or in quarantine, Omikron has reached the school in Duisburg with its approximately 900 students. Principal Martina Zilla Seifert is also at home with a corona infection, while we are connected to her via videos for a discussion of innovative working time models.

What to do? Cancel colleagues’ team hours to secure lessons for students? “Absolutely not, that would be the beginning of the end,” Seifert replied resolutely.

The school was founded in 2015 as a group school

What would be the obvious answer to the lack of teachers for most school directions would only be an option for them if nothing else works. The Green Comprehensive School has been based on the team model since its founding in 2015, which means that the team’s times for faculty cooperation are set in the schedule with set times. The school is now a go-to school for the team development process area for the quality and support agency of the North Rhine-Westphalia state school institute (Qua-LiS NRW). And the lessons are also based on the cooperative work of students according to the concept of Norm and Kathy Green.

Principal Martina Zilla Seifert developed the school concept with her colleagues, now she is about to retire. She is not afraid that the team facilities may be lost after her departure. After all, they have proven themselves and teachers now appreciate the benefits.

From the beginning, Seifert relied on the effect of the positive experience. Because he is also linked to the compulsory hour model, which in North Rhine-Westphalia provides 25.5 hours for school-based inclusive school.

A jar of hours of relief and the principle of hope

The rigid model of working hours for teachers makes it difficult for schools to set cooperation times. The working time depends on the number of hours to be taught. Other tasks such as home corrections, further training, lesson preparation, or teamwork are included as a lump sum, but the scope is not more precisely defined. Project work, development of joint lessons, interdisciplinary concepts – all this has slowed down.

To give the team model a fixed structure, Seifert uses a “trick”.
Teachers who work in fifth or sixth grade at Green Comprehensive School have an hour and a half less class per week. Fixed cooperation times are included in the calendar. During this time, the respective class groups sit together in an office to prepare lessons together, to evaluate each other’s observations of the lessons, to exchange information on dissonances in study groups, or to discuss personal matters. This class team is made up of at least four colleagues: two teachers who share class leadership, an advisory member of the school board of directors, and a colleague from the multi-professional team or facilitator team for “Cooperative Learning”. Once a month, school administrators and, if necessary, a specialist in special education are called.

Teamwork is not done “over”, but is credited and rewarded – in the fifth year with double lessons per week, in the sixth year with a single lesson. To this end, the school uses the so-called teachers’ fund to lighten the tasks, which each school in North Rhine-Westphalia has at its disposal in its staff budget. This organization is facilitated by the fact that there are almost no part-time employees at the Green Comprehensive School.

And is this pot of hours of relief enough for such a model? “No!” says Seifert, who will not stop after her active stint as director to support a new model of teacher working time and better staffing in schools. Starting in the seventh grade, there are no longer these respite hours for team times at Green Comprehensive School. But there is still double management of the class until the ninth year.

Teamwork increases well-being at work

The fact that the idea of ​​teamwork works even beyond sixth grade without the required respite is due solely to the special commitment of the teachers. “We hoped that after two years the teachers would understand that they needed this team time and would continue to do so anyway, even if they were no longer counted in the compulsory time,” says Seifert.

Hope rises. “Working together not only relieves tension, but creates relationships that colleagues don’t give up so easily. They no longer feel alienated from work. It is also significant when others see that you are doing a good job ”. The positive effects on well-being and health were also shown in a survey conducted by Copsoq NRW among teachers. Most colleagues said they found the team’s timing a relief in a demanding job.

And another very decisive advantage became evident in the crown pandemic. Thanks to the existing group structures, the school was able to react agile to the new situation and adapt its concepts. Existing exchange formats for teachers could easily be transferred to digital. “The team structure ensured that we could continue, even without face-to-face lessons,” says Seifert.

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