Solving problems and sharing knowledge requires a positive, growth oriented climate. The fact that there are different persons, different knowledge, different skills and different resources in the team allows the teachers to learn from each other. A positive climate consists of the following factors: encouraging atmosphere, choices and diversity, enough time, beneficial feedback, safety, “relaxed alertness”, helpful support and honoring personal styles.

Teams must develop the right mixture of skills that complement each other. According to Katzenbach and Smith, these skills can be divided into three categories: (1) Technical or functional expertise, (2) Problem-solving and decision-making skills and (3) Interpersonal skills. It’s the interpersonal skills that attribute to the climate of the team. How the team members manage their emotions, how much self-motivation they have, how are their social skills, how empathetic they are, what are their listening skills like, are they risk-takers, etc.

A drawing of a person.

Solving and sharing exercises

Activity 1: Know, Want to Know, Learned (KWL)

Graphic organizer KWL (PDF)

First the team writes down what they know about the topic they are discussing, then what they have learned about it and finally what they still want to learn. This way it will become clear to the whole team, what the knowledgebase is.

KWL helps the team to clarify what has been learned and what needs to be learned. It also helps to prioritize the work to get to the desired result.


Activity 2: Marshmallow spaghetti tower

20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, 1 roll of masking tape, 1 yard of string, and 1 marshmallow for every team.

Using just these supplies, which team can build the tallest tower? 

There’s a catch: the marshmallow has to be at the very top of the spaghetti tower, and the whole structure has to stand on its own (that means no hands or other objects supporting it!) for five seconds.

Creative Problem Solving & Collaboration

Activity 3: P.I.T Model

P.I.T. handout (PDF) + chairs in a circle

P.I.T. is a strategy which values individuals and their personal issues and shows empathy as a collective group. 1. Personal: Participants take a minute to think about how they are feeling and what has been successful or challenging that day, or something else that is going on in their life that day. 

2. Interpersonal: Everyone shares their thoughts with others and colleagues acknowledge and show appreciation and empathy as appropriate. 

3. Task: The task for the session is identified and the agenda for the meeting is built. The team begins to work.

Emotional impact and social support, developing common vocabulary, clarifying and sharing

Gregory & Kuzmich