I know, I get it. You hear the word “ice-breakers” or “team-building” in the staff room at the end of a busy day and you roll your eyes. Team building activities for teachers do not have to be like this.
In this article, you will learn why team building really matters for teachers and why schools are a unique environment for building teams.
To make it practical, I also share some of my all-time favourite group activities that teachers love to play.
Why Does Team Building Matter for Teachers
There are few professions in the world where almost all of the work that has to get done can be performed by one person – a teacher. Think about it. Unlike the structure of most organisations, schools are one of the few places where the teacher is the king or queen of their domain. Other than leadership support from their administrators, and some possible intra- or cross-faculty collaboration, teachers rely on few others to deliver results in their classroom.
And this is a problem.
Day to day, in the traditional sense of their role, most teachers do not need to work with others to get their work done. However, many want to work with others because they are fully aware of the extraordinary benefits of collaborating with their colleagues.
When teachers see themselves as part of a team – rather than islands – they open up opportunities for professional enrichment, higher levels of job satisfaction and a greater sense of belonging. All of which must lead to better outcomes for their students.
Yet, working as a team is also fraught with problems (such as conflict, misunderstandings, etc) if this process is not managed well. This is where team building activities specifically for teachers can weave their magic.
Team Building Activities That Are Fun
One of the primary reasons team building programs do not work for teachers – as much as for the rest of the working population – is because the chosen activities are not fun or engaging. The following list has been successfully presented to thousands of teachers all over the world – I challenge you and your colleagues not to laugh or enjoy them.
Oh, and don’t forget to click the links to view some wonderful video tutorials to see teachers at play.
The name says it all – this exercise reflects the pressure many teachers find themselves in every day. In this activity, teachers are invited to work together to solve a common problem but with each person starting from a unique position. Does this sound familiar to your real-world career?
Have you ever felt that you weren’t valued by your peers? This simple, yet very powerful game highlights what happens when teachers don’t feel valued by their school. It will inspire fascinating conversations about how it feels to be valued, or not, and the impact it can have on your school. All you need is a pack of cards to get started.
Using a deck of cards again, this exercise is super-awesome for inviting teachers to mix and mingle and get to know one another more meaningfully. There are many fun variations and all of them will invite your group to interact randomly with others. Ideal for large schools whose staff often do not see or interact with others outside of their faculty or specialty.
Such a simple exercise, and so much fun. No props required, just an opening question or statement which you believe will resonate with your teachers. Start with something like “I do not enjoy taking the roll every morning” and just watch as many of your colleagues clamour to connect with you.
One of the most viral of our activities. Teachers love presenting it to their students, but it is equally enjoyable and powerful for school staff. Expect conversations about leadership, communication, clarity and taking responsibility to be raised. When facilitated well, this will be one of the highlights of your program.
This partner exercise is wonderful for inviting teachers to understand how similar and different they are to their colleagues. For example, are you more like a swing or a slide? Cat or a dog? Settler or explorer? Expect many rich and diverse conversations to be inspired.
Another of our viral activities that teachers love. All you need is a wide-open space, but no props. I guarantee this activity will trigger many bouts of spontaneous laughter, not to mention, gentle exercise. When ready, facilitate a discussion to focus on issues such as integrity, communication and listening skills.
Naturally, in case it has not occurred to you, all of these ideas would be highly suitable for use with students.
Online Team Building Ideas for Schools
playmeo has invested heavily in updating its expansive library of group games & activities to help teachers build their team skills within an online or virtual context. Post COVID19, a lot of professional development can be expected to be conducted online as have many team building activities.
If you’re looking for online team-building games, start your search at our activity search archive and look for the Filter option – select the Virtual tab to filter our entire database to find those that work for a virtual audience. Even when situated in remote locations, it is still possible (and I would argue, necessary) for groups of teachers to invest time and energy to build and nourish their team.