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Prerequisites for Creating a Team Learning Culture in Schools

School Culture of Team Learning

Vihti, Finland
Team learning is a profound learning approach that also changes the school's operating culture; both the student and the teacher have their own independent role as a community player.

What is it all about?

“By studying in less formal ways you learn useful skills for the future.”

- Otalampi secondary school students, Vihti

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.

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Innovation Overview
7 - 16
Age Group
1 435
Tips for implementation
Financial resources for training, several years, the commitment of the whole school.
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HundrED Review

The basis for transforming the school culture is a form of learning that supports change.


Students are better prepared for future challenges.


Team learning as a form of teaching suits a variety of environments.


Achievements & Awards


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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Training for the implementation of team learning
Changing the school culture requires willingness for change and training from the school staff.
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Commitment of school management
Commitment to change is also the foundation for change in school. Commitment from management requires good planning and positive signals from the staff.
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Piloting phase
Training and engagement leads to the piloting phase. At this point, special attention should be paid to close co-operation between the trained teachers.
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Continual Dialogue
The change in school culture brought on by team learning requires constant dialogue to increase the tolerance of uncertainty. A community-based dialogue is also a key concept in staff development.
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Guiding students to take initiative
When the student teams begin to take initiative and action, it is essential to give them room to create and work. The students' activities are mostly for learning purposes and their projects must be seen above all as learning processes.
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Reflecting on the piloting phase and recruiting for the next s...
After the first piloting period the community will have to carefully evaluate the actual process and view the sustainability of their vision. Positive experiences often encourage other teachers to train as teamwork specialists.
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