Connections bring us closer to equity and justice

By Ellie Drago-Severson, Jessica Blum-DeStefano and Deborah Brooks-Lawrence
October 2020
Vol. 41, No. 5
“With so much unrest and uncertainty in our nation, in this city, and in our district, teams continue to be the glue that holds my school together. I make sure to ask teachers, ‘How are you feeling?’ They all need a place to emote, to learn, to plan, and to connect. Teams are making a difference.”— Urban veteran principal At their best, teams can bring people and talents together and serve as holding environments — spaces that offer both developmental supports and challenges — for individual, group, and organizational growth and transformation. While teaming has steadily emerged as a lever for educational change in recent years, educators are now being called on to team in new and deeper ways as they navigate unprecedented uncertainty amidst

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Questions to consider

To begin putting the strategies for developmental teaming into practice, consider the following questions, either individually or with colleagues:

What is one thing you value about your team?

What is one thing you’d like your team to get better at?

How has the shift to virtual team meetings been going for you?

What is one insight or takeaway from the ideas and strategies presented here?

What’s your next step?


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Drago-Severson, E. (2004). Helping teachers learn: Principal leadership for adult growth and development.Corwin/Sage.

Drago-Severson, E. (2009). Leading adult learning: Supporting adult development in our schools. Corwin/Sage Publications and Learning Forward.

Drago-Severson, E. (2012). Helping educators grow: Strategies and practices for leadership development. Harvard Education Press.

Drago-Severson, E. & Blum-DeStefano, J. (2016). Tell me so I can hear you: A developmental approach to feedback for educators. Harvard Education Press.

Drago-Severson, E. & Blum-DeStefano, J. (2017). The self in social justice: A developmental lens on race, identity, and transformation. Harvard Educational Review, 87(4), 457-481.

Drago-Severson, E. & Blum-DeStefano, J. (2018). Leading change together: Developing educator capacity in schools and systems. ASCD.

Drago-Severson, E., Joswick-O’Connor, C., & Blum-DeStefano, J. (2018). When teams hit rough waters: Navigate challenges with a developmental approach. The Learning Professional, 39(4), 54-58.

Helms, J.E. (1994). The conceptualization of ethnic identity and other “racial” constructs. In E.J. Thicket, R.J. Watts, & D. Birman (Eds.), Human diversity: Perspectives on people in context. Jossey-Bass.

Helms, J. (2020). A race is a nice thing to have: A guide to being a white person or understanding the white persons in your life (3rd ed.). Cognella.

Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self: Problem and process in human development. Harvard University Press.

Kegan, R. (1994). In over our heads: The mental demands of modern life. Harvard University Press.

Singh, A.A. (2019). The racial healing handbook: Practical activities to help you challenge privilege, confront systemic racism & engage in collective healing. Harbinger.

Singleton, G. (2014). Courageous conversations about race: A field guide for achieving equity in schools (2nd ed.). Corwin.

Tatum, B. (2017). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria? And other conversations about race (20th anniversary ed.). Basic Books.

University Professor at Teachers College Columbia University | + posts

Jessica ( is course instructor & advisor, Bank Street Graduate School of Education.

Deborah ( is child welfare specialist and contract manager, NYC Administration for Children’s Services in New York City.

The Learning Professional

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