Contributor: Shannon Malkovsky. Lesson ID: 10260

Poet John Donne said, "No man is an island." Most situations in life require you to be part of a team. Successful teams need to follow rules. This lesson will cover rules for successful teamwork!


Interpersonal Skills

Life Skills
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


"A thoughtful father called for his three children. He gave each of them a stick to break. Each child could easily break the stick. He then tied the three sticks together and asked each child to try to break them. Each child tried to break the bound sticks but without success. Individually, a stick was easy to break, but when they were bound together, they were impossible to break” (Traditional).

  • What does this story mean to you?

What does it mean to be a team?

Teamwork means we work together to reach a common goal.

Characteristics of an effective team

Clear purpose The vision, mission, goal, or task of the team has been defined and is accepted by everyone. There is an action plan.

Informality The climate tends to be informal, comfortable, and relaxed. There are no obvious tensions or signs of boredom.

Participation There is much discussion and everyone is encouraged to participate.

Listening The members use effective listening techniques, such as questioning, paraphrasing, and summarizing to draw out and understand ideas.

Civilized disagreement There is disagreement, but the team is comfortable with this and shows no signs of avoiding, smoothing over, or suppressing conflict.

Consensus decisions For important decisions, the goal is accepted, but there is not necessarily unanimous agreement through open discussion of everyone's ideas.

Open communication Team members feel free to express their feelings on the tasks as well as on the group's operation. There are few hidden agendas. Communication takes place outside of meetings.

Clear roles and work assignments There are clear expectations about the roles played by each team member. When action is taken, clear assignments are made, accepted, and carried out. Work is fairly distributed among team members.

Shared leadership While the team has a formal leader, leadership functions shift from time to time, depending upon the circumstances, the needs of the group, and the skills of the members. The formal leader models the appropriate behavior and helps establish positive norms.

External relations The team spends time developing key outside relationships, mobilizing resources, and building credibility with important players in other parts of the organization.

Style diversity The team has a broad spectrum of team-player types, including members who emphasize attention to task, excel at goal setting, focus on process, and ask questions about how the team is functioning.

Self-assessment Periodically, the team stops to examine how well it is functioning and what may be interfering with its effectiveness.

(Adapted from

Watch the following video about teamwork. While you are watching On the Road: Middle school football players execute life-changing play (CBS Evening News), please take notes and be prepared to share specific examples of how the team members displayed characteristics of an effective team:


Click on the following link from The Washington Post to read essays that students wrote about teamwork: Essay contest about teamwork shows that kids are good writers. Once you have read the essays, write your own essay about what teamwork means to you.

Before you move on to the Got It? section, complete the Teamwork Style Questionnaire in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Now, move on to the Got It? section to examine yourself!

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