The innovation combines two interesting entities: team learning as a form of learning in elementary schools and transforming school culture in the long run.
Team learning is a fruitful platform for change in school culture. Opposite to authoritarian and hierarchical thinking, team learning leans towards low hierarchy where everyone plays an essential role. The reward-based performance culture is transformed by team learning into a meaningful and productive culture.
Team learning enables students to acquire knowledge that is relevant throughout life. This competence can be seen, for example, in the construction and maintenance of functioning communities, self-management and peer-to-peer management. If the predictions regarding the future of work are true, these skills will be even more valuable than ever.
The introduction of team learning and the creation of a new kind of operational culture take several years. This innovation describes the key preconditions for building a teamwork learning culture at the elementary school level.
Team learning is more common in secondary and higher education, but is yet to still be established in elementary education. There are a lot of requirements for teachers regarding their skills and know-how in building a team at the elementary school level, since responsibility can’t be given to students in the same way as in secondary and higher education.
In team learning, the student groups have both the responsibility and the freedom to guide and regulate their activities in line with the agreed goal. The whole team works towards a common goal. Everyone in the team can in turn practice peer management, for example.
The first phase of team learning, the so-called first wave, was implemented at Otalampi Comprehensive School during the school year 2015–2016. As a result, the students became more active and creative, and the ability to do things without the fear of making mistakes grew. Students do not expect detailed instructions and orders, but genuinely do their best to develop their own solutions to the given problems.