26 April 2016

Project Aristotle: Or How Google Discovered the Most Important Quality of Teamwork



As I was driving in car recently, listening to NPR, I overheard an interview about a fascinating new research study about what makes a good team. This study, aptly titled Project Aristotle, delved into the many intricacies of what makes a good team tick. This research picked up traction after a NY Times article about it was written in February. The basic gist of the research is that the number one component of a good team is psychological safety. Psychological safety is when team members open up to one another and feel comfortable taking risks. The feeling that your thoughts and feelings are not being taken seriously is enough to make a person detach from the team dynamic.

I thought of ways to enable in increase in psychological safety in my classroom.

Psychological Safety in the Classroom:

  • Students given more input into how lessons are taught.
  • Be more flexible as a teacher to take a students' off topic comment and turn it into a learning tangent.
  • More opportunities in class to have students share information about their personal lives to build an environment of acceptance. 
  • The creation of group norms together to instill a feeling of ownership of the group.
  • More student talking and less teacher talking. (Project Aristotle found that one major characteristic of a successful group was the fact that all members spoke roughly the same proportion).
  • Giving students opportunities to improve their "social sensitivity" abilities. This means learning to read the social/emotional signals being sent by another teammate. This could be done by modeling and role playing. 
  • Learning how to set clear goals and follow through with the mission of the team. 
  • Setting up a safe environment in my class in which students feel safe enough to take intellectual risks.

Some of these goals are more attainable than others but I will set my sights high and try to work on one goal per week for the rest of the school year. One of my mentor teachers told me once that the last two months of the year are the perfect time to experiment with new strategies and methods. 

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