Appreciate your team...

by Jocely de Deus Pinheiro


Dear Farm Friends,

Being a Brazilian Sunflower, there is a big probability that, like millions of Brazilians, I love football!!! And this probability is 100% confirmed… Yes, I simply love football!!! In Brazil, I support Ceará (my state team) and Flamengo (the best national team); in Spain I support Real Madrid; in England, I support Manchester United, and in Portugal, Sporting Football Club. Needless to say, I cannot stop watching the matches on TV during this period of the World Cup in Korea and Japan: it’s amazing to see the footballers running from one side to the other, trying to take control of the game and score goals!!! And, all this football made me reflect about Teacher Development and about my role in the team of teachers I belong to!!! It’s not a football team, but an ELT team and I’m definitively part of it!!!


In the football world, every team has an identity: a name, a nickname maybe, a uniform which identifies the team, a team anthem, training hours, individual/group exercising moments, a coach, a technical committee, games to play and win, and players carefully chosen, of course!!! The main objective of the football world is to score goals!!! All is done and carefully planned to score goals…

Well, in the ELT world we also have this… Each school has a name/nickname, a logo which identifies the school, maybe a jingle which is used to advertise the school on radio or TV, group planning/training/meetings,  individual planning/studying/preparation of the contents which will be taught, a coordinator/supervisor/trainer, pedagogical support, classes to give and, of course, teachers!!! The main objective of the ELT world is to teach English and to see students effectively learning English and communicating in the English language!!! All is done and carefully planned to help students speak, listen, write, read, and understand the world having the English language as a vehicle…


Watching the matches on TV, these last days, I started reflecting a bit about the TEAM SPIRIT footballers must have to win matches… And I started reflecting about the same TEAM SPIRIT we teachers in the ELT world must develop in order to “score our goals”…  But, what exactly is a TEAM??? And what exactly do I mean by TEAM SPIRIT???


According to the OXFORD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (1995:1225) the word TEAM can be defined as…

  1. a group of players forming one side in certain games and sports.

  2. a group of people working together.

  3. two or more animals pulling a cart, carriage, etc, together.

From the word TEAM, we have a very interesting phrasal verb - team up (with sb): to work together with somebody, especially for a common purpose. We have the word TEAMMATE: a member of the same team or a group as oneself. We also have the word TEAM SPIRIT: willingness to act for the good of one’s team rather than one’s individual advantage. And, finally, we have the word TEAM WORK: organized effort as a team.

I started asking myself if the school I work in can be identified as a TEAM? But I mean a team like definitions number 1 and 2 of the OXFORD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, a group of players forming one side in certain games and sports, a group of people working together and not definition number 3, the one of two or more animals pulling a cart, carriage, etc, together. As teachers working in the same school, are we a team??? Are we on the same side??? Are we working together??? Are we teamed up as a group??? Am I teamed-up with my colleagues??? Am I a teammate??? Do I have team spirit???? Do I believe in teamwork??? Do I cherish teaming up with my colleagues??? (Why/Why not?) What must I do with and for my own self in order to become a good teammate??? Do I know who is in my team??? Do I appreciate my team???

And after reflecting for more than two 45 minutes halves, with extension and penalties, I started imagining how miserable a football match would be if each footballer decided to be a superstar and not pass the ball on over to the others… And I started thinking how crazy it would be if the goalkeeper decided he didn’t want to stay in the goal area, and decided to go out playing, as a forward player or as a defender??? And imagine if the defenders decided they wanted to score the goals and, because of their own pride, stopped passing the ball on to the midfield players and forwarders??? And what if the referee didn’t respect the rules of the game and did not observe correctly the footballers and their attitudes during the match??? Or if the referees and linesmen showed any kind of personal like or dislikes for a specific team and, due to this, were not fair while controlling the game???


This led me to conclude that, in teamwork, each team member must like being what one actually is and, moreover, must feel comfortable with the role one is playing… The feeling of non-acceptance of what one is, and of what one is doing, can easily destroy the team spirit and provoke envy, unease, and competition among people who were supposed to be united, playing for the same purpose!!! All these images helped me realize I must also work on my personal/human characteristics as well as on my technical skills if I want to be a team member, if I want to let grow the team spirit, which there is in me… The happier I am with who I am and with what I am, the better team member I’ll be!!! The better team member I am, the better my team will be and, thus, there is a great probability that we can get to our common objective: scoring goals, that is, helping our students learn English!!! 


Do I teach children or, maybe, adolescents??? Adults??? Do I teach beginners?? Intermediate, or upper-intermediate??? Advanced levels??? Do I teach Cambridge, Toefl, Michigan, etc, preparation courses??? Am I a coordinator, a supervisor, a trainer, an owner??? It doesn’t matter: each one of us has a very important role in our team/school and we must be happy with this role and we must respect and cherish our colleagues’ roles in order to promote effective teamwork!!!


"You might belong to any number of teams; your work, your family, the parent group at school, a darts club, drama group… there are numerous possibilities!!! Make a list of all your teams. Being part of a team increases one’s sense of belonging and wellbeing. There’s nothing quite like the shared feeling of team achievement… Think about your own teams and appreciate your own team members” (Field, 1998:79)

 Oh, Gee!!! I’ve got to go!!! Yes, of course… I’ve got to see the next game and guess who’s playing??? BRAZIL X ENGLAND!!! Well, I’m an English teacher, but… my heart is Brazilian…

See you after the game… May Brazil’s players remember they are a team, and may the team spirit be strengthened by our biggest objective: scoring GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALS!!!




OXFORD Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, OUP, 1995.

FIELD, Lynda, 60 Ways to Feel Amazing, Vermilion,1998.

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