All the players on the New Paradigm Team
Theo. R. Leverenz, Ph.D.
EPPA Consulting, Georgetown, KY
The achievements of an organization are the
results of the combined effort of each individual.
Everybody on a championship team doesn't get
publicity, but everyone can say he's a champion.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson
n the nineties, notions of "teamwork," "partnership," and "collaboration"
became in vogue. None of these terms were particularly new to sports, of course, but
what about education? Education is a team effort, too, isn't it?
As Vince noted, educational achievement is the result of the COMBINED effort of many
individuals. And Magic hit the nail right on the head. Very few on the educational
"team" get the publicity, but EVERYONE on the team is the champion!
One topic that is either overlooked (intentionally or otherwise) in discussions about
education, assumed, or hotly contested is: Who, exactly, is "on the team"?
The following categories are outlined as obvious --- and not so obvious --- members
of an educational organization team.
If we were to name the various parts of an automobile, we would all include body,
wheels, engine, trunk, windows, headlights, etc. But I doubt anyone would also
mention the less obvious, but no less essential parts such as lugnuts, windshield
wipers, decorative trim, nuts and bolts that hold the parts together, etc. But all
of these parts are absolutely essential They are, in fact, part of the automobile.
Similarly, so it is with the educational "team" Many members of the team are rarely
mentioned, many are rarely considered, most rarely come to mind when the concept of
educational teams is the focus.
The educational "Team" includes:
Players on the field
The true players on the field are the students. That's right. The students are the
primary and only preeminent focus of colleges and universities --- or should be.
Virtually all the resources, physical plant, facilities, programs, initiatives, and
activities of colleges and universities are designed to be of ultimate value to the
players on the field - the students.
The coaches of players on the field are, of course, the faculty ---the teachers in
each and every classroom. Very close are the "major administrators" (provosts, deans,
admissions directors, financial aid counselors, etc.). These are the team members that
are the most noticeable and most frequently cited.
But there are other members of this team "squad" as well: the substitutes, visiting
professors, interim professors, etc. As with almost any team, there are less noticeable,
but equally vital people who are, indeed, considered part of the team. These less
frequently mentioned team members are:
Vice presidents, department and division chairs in colleges and universities can be
considered team trainers. These are the team members that contribute through
coordinating, planning, facilitating, supporting, and defending the wide variety of
team "plays" (a.k.a. courses, majors, inter-disciplinary activities, etc.)
And trainers are the ones that provide the often intangible support without which no
team could continue --- successfully. So it is with librarians, information technology
staff, and other resource coordinators
When a player is injured, the team physician is normally the one the team turns to. So
it is when a student encounters difficulty Tutors are there specifically to assist the
players facing obstacles or suffering educational "injuries."
Far, far too often overlooked (and frequently) ignored are the maintenance and housekeeping
staffs of colleges and universities. Just as no team can practice without practice
equipment, balls, rackets, mats, running tracks, nets, and clubs, etc., no player on the
field or the players' coaches can perform with distinction in rooms with dirty blackboards,
non-functioning lab equipment, no heat or air conditioning, dirty floors, inadequate or
leaking plumbing, etc. These are members of the team without which no team could, in fact,
function. And they are the members of the team too often overlooked.
At times, teams face overwhelming challenges. These challenges may be the need to carry
out a key play successfully, succeed at winning a series of games, complete an entire
season successfully, or achieve success in post - season tournaments. CheerLEADERS
provide assistance by leading support for the team. Cheerleaders provide vocalized support
for the team. Cheerleaders provide encouragement.
In Colleges and Universities, alumni play a similar role. Alumni can be utilized to cheer
the institution on, to lead support for the institution, to vocalize support for the
school. And don't students' parents and families cheer "their" team as well?
No team would be complete without its fans, would it? What are fans? Fans are the people
who, although perhaps having no other association with team, are nonetheless strong
supporters of the team. Fans are the people who will give up their time to follow the
team, to attend the team's competitions, who often will also make financial sacrifices
for the sake of "their" team.
The community around an institution and an institution's donors are fans of the school.
They may have no other association with the college or university other than a keen
interest in its success Consequently, the community and donors will willingly make
sacrifices for the institution, most notably a financial contribution.
Promoters / PR
Teams need, strive for, seek, and thoroughly enjoy press coverage. Press coverage is
what communicates a team's records of accomplishment, news making achievements,
recruiting successes, etc. So is the importance of an institution's public relations
and media operations. They are the essential part of the team that insures that others
off campus are aware of an institution's distinct characteristics and achievements
All athletic teams have owners. They may own the team in the sense you may expect ---
they have the title or deed to the team. But other types of "owners" exist, too.
The "owners" of high school football teams are, ultimately, the local Board of
Education. Schools, arenas of education, have owners. These owners are normally
referred to as "Trustees" or "President" or "Superintendent" or similar terms.
And as with the owners of professional teams, their jobs, too, may depend on how
successful their "team" is.
A "team" is a wonderful and marvelous entity. I, and hopefully you too, am filled
with wonder when I witness a successful educational organization. And I also marvel
when I stop to consider the multiplicity of team members who have contributed to the
team's success (remember what Vince Lombardi said?) and, without publicity, are still
most certainly champions (remember Magic Johnson's comment).
It is vital for us to remember the education "team" is more than the few that can be
seen wearing team colors when the team marches onto the playing field!