All around us, the best and the bravest achievements are team achievements: from families, sports, and arts to politics, engineering, and hospital units. And why would it be otherwise? Teams are not just groups. They know more. They are more and thus they achieve more.
Yet one profession has been associated with team performance much less than other professions – the profession of teaching. There may be several reasons for such unclear connection. First, education has for many years relied on subjects, whereby it was understood that one teacher per one subject constitutes an optimal match. Second, education has often been, at least partially, publicly funded and hence somewhat removed from the market pressures. Third, education has been strongly based on tradition, i.e. on maintaining legacy systems much more than on being entrepreneurial in designing educational services.
Such subject-based, publicly funded, conservative organisation of a teacher’s work resulted in a mismatch between what education can deliver, and the challenges of a new knowledge-based society, where professionals succeed by being multidisciplinary in building new bridges, commerce-driven in creating wealth, and entrepreneurial in leading innovations.
Teaching Together for Change
The world of work has been duly following the societal changes. In modern businesses, multidisciplinary, cost-efficient, innovative teams are all the rage. And, notably, in universities of applied sciences, such as Haaga-Helia, students have already for many years been studying and collaborating with the industry in highly-performing dynamic project teams, whereby opening doors to work life has been a great success as a mission for Haaga-Helia.
Yet, why should teachers be prevented from working in teams themselves?
Today, when education is becoming more work-integrated and more self-reliant in the context of ever increasing competition, the need for team-teaching is paramount. Hence, taking this as a priority, Haaga-Helia has recently launched several initiatives that put team teaching into the core of education. One of such initiatives is a competence-based curriculum on Porvoo Campus, where everything from planning to assessment happens as teamwork. Another notable initiative is PEDAALI-training, which mixes all Haaga-Helia staff to develop best team-teaching practices.
As a staff member, involved in both initiatives, I am happy to see immense value in team teaching for many reasons. First, team teaching creates interdependency – our staff teams become stronger by doing things together. We are also more inclusive of ideas of each other, we develop trust and set higher ethical standards.
Second, we become more open and transparent to external stakeholders. We reflect on our values, we strive for accountability and we take care of the team’s image in an organisation. Third, we help each other towards life-long learning, benchmarking and sharing the best teaching practices. We also develop innovative pedagogics to develop multidisciplinary competences in our students. All of this takes place in large teams that learn to work efficiently, pro-actively, and flexibly.
Text by Ivan Berazhny, Senior Lecturer, Degree Programmes in Aviation Business, Tourism, International Sales and Marketing, Porvoo Campus