Conflict in middle school teaching teams: Friend or foe?
Teaming has been touted as the keystone of middle years' education (Clark, 1997) and is a non-negotiable part of middle school teaching. Teachers working in a middle school environment are organised into small teaching teams that plan and teach together. Middle schooling practice, however, demands some reshaping of complex and multiple relationships among teachers. This reshaping included collaborative planning, teaching, assessing and reporting within teaching teams, together with developing closer relationships with students, administrative staff, parents and the wider community. These tasks require teachers to negotiate a new complex web of interrelationships. As newly formed teams evolve and work to complete these new tasks and negotiate these relationships, they move through definite and very different stages of a 'life cycle. Tuckman (1965) identified four stages in the develoment or life cycle of groups (i.e., forming, norming, storming, and performing). The most critical of thes stages to the team's progess, effectiveness and sustainability is the 'storming' or conflict stage. This paper reports conflict observed in a study that investigated collaborative practices in middle school teaching teams in Queensland. The results revealed several aspects of working in teams that techers found challenging. Specifically, teachers generally demonstrated limited and ineffective means of dealing with conflict, which, in most instances, caused team development to stagnate or regress.
Australian Journal of Middle schooling