Monday, 4 July 2016

Teacher Led Team-building - Bringing it in-house

During our years working in all things education be it schools, colleges, universities or outdoor education centres we have always been struck by the paradox of character development. Most schools we work with are committed to developing the character of their students. Skills and behaviours such as resilience, confidence, communication, flexibility, creativity, team working and collaboration are espoused, quite rightly as universities and employers place ever more value on these qualities (see this study from the University of Kent

The paradox however is that a traditional vehicle for developing these skills is through an outdoor and experiential activity programmes, often outsourced to third parties. These programme are illustrated as flagship offerings, value add interventions that parents get excited about and students thoroughly enjoy. Large sums are paid (generally by parents) to take students to remote and beautiful parts of the UK such North Wales, the Lake and Peak Districts simply for them to spend their time engaged in basic team initiative tasks and problem solving activities which could easily be done at school with their own teachers!

The blocks and barriers are generally as follows:  What do I do? 

The misconception is that "we need to be well resourced". Well yes and no. There will be the need for some kit to get started, however its amazing what can be done with basic items such as a juggling balls, blindfolds and some recycled pieces of rope. There are also, of course, a myriad prop free activities out there in the public domain. Instructions, briefs and facilitator notes are all over the web. Take a look at:

Where do I do it?

In terms of space, a classroom, sports hall, a small patch of tarmac or open woodland can all equally lend themselves to effective teacher led team building. Its really about what you chose to do to engage the group. "No such thing as a disengaged group just a disengaging plan"!

How do I do it? 

The challenge is also in changing approach from teacher to 'facilitator'. As facilitator there is no requirement for us to be a subject expert. In fact it is quite beneficial for teachers and students to share and learn together. The facilitator approach differs from the teaching approach in one key way, its about enquiry rather than advocacy. Drawing out the experiences from our young people is key, so the mantra is ask rather than tell. We are aiming to make learning easy through helping our students reflect on "their" own experience in the here and now. There are no right or wrongs in the team building context, only behaviours which yield differing results. No tests, comparisons or text books. Simply the individuals unique experiences and reflections to guide them.

We at SOuL would love to see teachers taking their pupils outside and participating in regular team based, collaborative and problem solving tasks as part of an integrated whole school co and extra curricular agenda. The benefits to both students and teachers and the relationship between both is self evident. The schools we have seen that do this well foster a culture of mutual growth and learning between students and staff, adult to adult conversation, mutual respect and mutual enjoyment of the learning process.

If you are interested in saving your school money whilst developing the skills listed above then we have created a powerful solution in our Arbojo Pack:

  • 65 + activities
  • Over 45 hours of activity time
  • EYFS to post 16 progression through 2 packs (Midi and Maxi Arbojo packs)
  • Full activity briefs and facilitator notes 
  • All contained in a neat portable holdall
As a Summer Special we are offering a 20% discount off the £1095 RRP to all our Twitter followers. This is a saving of over £180 just £912.50 if you buy before 5th September. We are also able to provide teacher training workshops to accompany your purchase and to enable you to derive maximum benefit from this powerful resource pack.