This principle, Engagement and Effort, is actually about the “mindset”. Teachers must want to collaborate, they must want to plan and work together. How much do you want to see the team succeed? Individual accountability is engine of collaboration. It means that everyone is accountable for their part of the teamwork and working together as a team strengthens the team. Individual accountability is a term more often associated with collaborative learning, but as I already have pointed out, teacher are learners as well.

We could also use the term “mutual accountability” by Katzenbach and Smith where team accountability is about the promises we make to ourselves and to others, promises that underpin two critical aspects of teams: commitment and trust. Teams that have a specific, strong and negotiated goal inevitably hold themselves responsible, both as individuals and a team.

To see if your team functions as a real team and there is mutual accountability amongst you, you can go through these questions to help you pinpoint if there are any difficulties.


  1. Are you individually and jointly accountable for the team’s purpose, goals, approach, and work-products?
  2. Can you and do you measure progress against specific goals?
  3. Do all members feel responsible for all measures?
  4. Are the members clear on what they are individually responsible for and what they are jointly responsible for?

(adapted from Katzenbach)

A drawing of a person.

Engagement and effort exercises

Activity 1: No talking, please

Colored markers, flipchart paper, tape.

An activity where the participants have to work together without talking to each other.

1. Give the team markers and a paper

2. Have the team draw a floorplan of a perfect classroom for a group of students. Money is no objective, have fun! 

3. Participants may not talk to anyone while planning or drawing 

4. After 10 minutes drawing is shared and discussed

The objective is to show the participants that they need to find ways to work together to complete a task.


Activity 2: Stack’em up

A set of 16 random playing cards for each team

In this activity participants learn to cooperate with each other, have fun, and reinforce communication skills.

1. Give each team a random set of 16 playing cards 

2. Have the teams shuffle the cards and lay out all their cards in a grid (four rows and four columns) value facing up 

3. The objective is to reduce the 16 cards down to one stack, or the smallest number of stacks possible 

4. Rules:

a) A card (or a stack) may be moved any distance horizontally or vertically, NEVER diagonally 

b) It must always end its move on top of another card (or stack) that is the same rank or suit. It can never take an empty space 

c) once a card is placed on top of another card, the resulting stack is moved as one unit. 

d) allow the team 10 minutes to play

This activity is a way to enhance creative problem solving and help the individuals understand the value of being flexible.


Activity 3: Legoman


1. Divide everyone into small teams of 2 or more.

2. Select an overseer who isn’t on a team to build a random structure using Lego building blocks within 10 minutes. 

3. The other teams are then required to replicate the structure exactly (including size and color) within 15 minutes—however, only one member from each group can look at the original structure. They must figure out a way to communicate the size, color, and shape of the original structure to their team who has no reference of the original model.

This activity highlights the importance of clear communication.