Lifelong Learner & Reflective Practitioner

Lifelong Learner & Reflective Practitioner

Let's Transform Our Schools Into TRUE Professional Learning Communities

Let's Transform Our Schools Into TRUE Professional Learning Communities
In Your School- Do all stakeholders subscribe to the belief that EVERYONE has something to learn and EVERYONE has something to teach? This blog can help you gain insight on how to facilitate this transformative mindset with your faculty!

Aug 6, 2013

Back to School Team Building Activities

I wanted to plan some fun and engaging activities for the first few days we brought the teachers back together before the students started. As is the case in most schools, we had teachers who retired, teachers who transferred, and new teachers who just recently came on board at our school. Anytime there are major personnel changes it is a good idea to use the first day or so for “get to know you” activities and team-building. In my district, we are blessed to have the teachers for over a week before the students return so we are able to spend sometime doing these things, and still have time to get to work on the serious challenges (data disaggregation, critical self analysis and goal setting, strategic planning, and best practice implementation, etc).

However, I have found that- just like with students- if we take the time on the front end to invest in relationship and team building FIRST, the teachers will be much more receptive to rolling up their sleeves and getting focused on the serious work at hand.

This year’s “get to know you” ice-breakers were particularly engaging and insightful so I decided to share them in this post.

The first activity was a series of 4 Corners topics…purposely designed to be non-threatening and get teachers comfortable with sharing. I made four signs and hung them in each of the 4 corners of the meeting room. They were labeled with the numbers 1-4. On the Elmo, I displayed a paper that had the following:
1- Rent a Movie
2- Exercise/Workout
3- Read
4- Get Out and Be Social

I instructed teachers to go to the corner that was most representative of how they would spend an evening alone. Then, I had them discuss this in their small groups. I heard a new teacher say that she picked “reading” because she is very shy. She said that “getting out and getting social is sometimes difficult for her.” As a mentor, this nugget of information was very valuable for me. It let me know that I may need to make a special effort to assist her in getting out of her comfort zone if I see that she is struggling with “speaking up” in situations with her colleagues or parents. I repeated this process with the following:
1- R&B/Rap
2- Country
3- Rock/Alternative
4- Gospel/ Easy Listening

I instructed teachers to go to the corner that was most representative of their preferred style of music. I then had them discuss what their current favorite songs are. Since the majority of students at our school are African American and they listen to R&B and Rap, it was interesting for me to see that most of our teachers do not listen to R&B or Rap. While this is certainly ok, it is still a good reminder for me as a leader to constantly make sure that our teachers have some exposure to the songs and musical artists that are most relevant to our students. This will enable them to make connections with their students and perhaps present information in a way that is most meaningful to the kids.

For the next round, I gave teachers the following choices:
1- Winter
2- Spring
3- Summer
4- Fall

Teachers were instructed to stand in the corner representing their favorite season and share in the small group why they particularly enjoyed this season. This was also very insightful for me as an administrator. For example, I heard one teacher who was standing in the “fall” corner enthusiastically say, “Fall is my favorite season because I LOVE coming back to school and seeing all the students.” This is a good indicator of this teacher’s positive attitude. On the other hand, hearing a teacher a say that the reason summer is her favorite season is because she is “completely over the brats by that time” is an indicator of a negative attitude and lack of professionalism. Another fun one that I used was: High Heels, Sneakers, Hiking Boots, Flip Flops

Four Corners can be modified to Two Corners also. I continued this insightful process with the following:
• 1- Cats or 2- Dogs
• 1- CNN or 2- FOX
• 1- Salty or 2- Sweet
• 1- Extrovert or 2- Introvert
• 1- Reading/ Language Arts or 2- Math/Science
• 1- Target or 2- Walmart
• 1- Dress Nice or 2- Dress Comfortably
• 1-Morning Person or 2- Night Owl
• 1- Baseball or 2- Football
• 1- Coke or 2- Pepsi
• 1- Beer or 2- Wine
• 1- Surf or 2- Turf
• 1- Lead or 2- Follow

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