Use team building activities at your school to liven up meetings or break the ice in the classroom. According to Business Week, “the team building activity must build on specific strengths and address weaknesses.” As a school leader, you know the areas of improvement needed for staff and students to be an effective team. Team building is a fun way to reinforce ideas that you want groups to apply in the school setting.

Autograph Bingo

Autograph bingo is an excellent icebreaker.
Autograph bingo is an excellent icebreaker.

Play autograph bingo by creating some unusual bingo cards. Instead of numbers, write short statements in the squares such as “under 30 years old,” “hates chocolate” and “favorite color is red.” Participants walk around the room and try to find someone who meets one of the criteria on the card. After finding such a person, they ask him to initial that square on the bingo card. The first person to get a bingo wins.

You can also ask participants to fill the entire card. In a school environment, this is a good classroom activity for the first day of school or for a training in which employees from different campuses come together.

Human Knot

You'll hear lots of laughs with the human knot activity.
You'll hear lots of laughs with the human knot activity.

Ask up to ten adults to stand in a circle and put their hands in the middle. Everyone must grab someone else’s hands. The rules are that the person cannot grab the hand of a person standing next to him, nor can he grab both of someone’s hands. Once everyone has a firm grip on each other’s hands, the goal is to try to untangle the knot without anyone releasing another person’s hand. At the end, the group should once again be standing in a circle.

This teambuilding activity is good for small groups who know each other well, such as the administrative team or a departmental team. This activity forces people to solve a stressful problem in close proximity—an excellent way to become comfortable with common school challenges.

Minefield

Minefield builds team members' communication skills.
Minefield builds team members' communication skills.

Place a variety of toys or other objects in a clear area approximately fifteen feet long and eight feet wide. This is the minefield. Blindfold one person in a group that is working on building team communication skills. Choose a person to be the blindfolded person’s partner. The partner must stand at the opposite end of the minefield and communicate to the blindfolded person how to get to the other end without setting off a mine—stepping on an object. You may want to increase the tension of the activity by setting a time limit.

Both students and school personnel can enjoy and benefit from this game as solving communication problems can increase productivity in classrooms and the school as a whole.

Straw Tower

Leaders emerge under time pressure.
Leaders emerge under time pressure.

Divide the class or meeting participants into groups of four or five. Provide each group with twenty straws, five pieces of string (two-inches long) and a three-inch piece of tape. Challenge each group to build the highest tower possible within fifteen minutes.

Students and teachers alike will enjoy competing to win this competition. This activity provides the opportunity for teachers to teach student teams how to work together cooperatively, and is an excellent way for teachers to get an insider’s view of cooperative learning difficulties that their students may face.