2 Making your underpinning knowledge, values and beliefs explicit
2.1 Thinking about values and beliefs underpinning teamwork
While few would contest the value of teamwork, it is important to explore how perceptions of teamwork are reflected in the actual experience of belonging to a team. In Activity 1 you identified the members of your team and you thought about your working relationships. The nature of those relationships largely depends on the extent to which you work cooperatively together. Cooperation, in turn, depends on the shared understandings within the team. This is exemplified in the following extract.
While some people still enter the field with the assumption that the focus of the job is on autonomous work with children, the reality of early childhood centres today is that the work of the early childhood practitioner requires effective interaction with other adults as members of a team (Stonehouse and Woodrow, 1992). When early childhood professionals talk about the staff at their centre, the word ‘team’ is often used. It is apparent that the concept of teamwork is perceived by current leaders as important for the working conditions of early childhood centres. What constitutes a team can vary from centre to centre … In long day or occasional childcare centres, the team may consist of the entire group of practitioners or of smaller groups who work together in a room or with a particular group of children. In family day care, the team may mean the coordinator, field workers, office staff and a large group of independent providers who are physically isolated from the central administration. Depending on the meaning given to the concept of team, parents may or may not be included in the broader definition. Regardless of its definition, the essence of a team is that all participants work together effectively to achieve a common goal.
It is widely accepted that the idea of ‘a common goal’ is core to understanding the notion of a team. But what is a ‘common goal’ and what does it look like in your practice? Rodd suggests that:
A team is ‘a group of people cooperating with each other to work towards achieving an agreed set of aims, objectives or goals while simultaneously considering the personal needs and interests of individuals … the pursuit of a common philosophy, ideals and values; commitment to working through the issues; shared responsibility; open and honest communication and access to a support system.
(Rodd, 1994, p.88)
The objective of this activity is:
to examine your own practice in relation to working with other professionals in order to make your underpinning values and beliefs explicit.
Now that you have read the text above, think about and make notes on the following questions.
What do you understand by the word ‘team’?
Do you have a ‘common goal’, an articulated ‘vision’, a written ‘mission statement’ or aims and objectives in your setting? What are they? Are they written down? How did they come about? Were you involved? What do they mean to you?
What understandings, values, attitudes and beliefs relating to how children learn and develop, written or unwritten, do you share with those you work with?
In relation to working with parents, your practice is dependent on your own views as an individual. It may be that these views change as you become more experienced or as a result of your professional development. A key aspect of teamwork is the extent to which all those involved in the team have shared views, values and beliefs. If you and the other members of your team are able to articulate your views, values and beliefs then you are more likely to develop shared understandings and to be an effective team.