This step suggests a process for building norms that will support your team in the hard work of learning.

10-15 minutes

  • Adopt a standard meeting agenda that will help you work efficiently
An elementary-age male student points while his female teacher stands beside him and observes

A Vital Step for Working as a Team

Setting norms at the beginning is what allows the group to disrupt and improve existing patterns throughout the process.

Individual Quiet Reflection

Take 2-3 minutes for individual quiet reflection in which each team member jots down a list of values important to them in a group that supports their learning.

It may be helpful to:

  • Consider groups you have been a part of in the past that have that have functioned well—or poorly.
  • Consider norms related to the specific content you will study. For example, teams focused on mathematics have adopted norms like being curious, explaining and justifying solutions, challenging each other’s thinking, and providing quiet work time.

Share and Discuss

As a team, take about 5 minutes to share and discuss the ideas generated by each member. Notice any potential contradictions. For example, if one group member asks for the group to be “safe and supportive” and another wants members of the group to “challenge my thinking,” discuss how both can be honored.

Norms from effective teams often attend to both practical matters and team values:

  • Listen thoughtfully, with an open mind
  • Share the air
  • Give 100%!
  • Stay on task
  • Be punctual
  • Have a positive outlook toward self and others
  • Always be student-focused
  • Show respect for other’s ideas…yet challenge them!

Agree and Record

Synthesize members’ ideas into a list of about 5 key norms you all support. Keep the list handy in your agenda so you can revisit it at the start of every meeting. Posting a paper copy when you meet may also be useful.

Practice Norms

At the start of each meeting, choose one norm or more norms to monitor during the meeting. Note moments when you feel the team is or isn’t upholding that norm. At the end of the meeting, discuss how you did with upholding your norms and what can be improved in your process for future meetings. As you reflect on your team’s norms, don’t be afraid to revise or update them to reflect challenges encountered by your team.


Three Habits of Effective Lesson Study Groups