Basic Components to Team Building In Your Classroom – Setting Expectations

Components to Team Building  

There are four basic components of a team building activity. Of the four components, only one component is the actual facilitation of the activity. Much more goes on in a successful session than the participants simply playing out the activity. While these are the basics of team building, even the advanced facilitator will find that it is a good refresher and provides a different perspective on the structure of good team building activities. 

The components of a team building activity, in essence, are very simple. With your class you will:  

  1. Set Expectations: This component involves planning for and discussing both good & bad behaviors.  
  2. Frame the Activity: This component involves providing a fictional storyline to the activity.  
  3. Facilitate the Activity: This component is just as it sounds. 
  4. Debrief the Activity: This component is perhaps the most important component because it’s where the real learning occurs. Debriefing is a group discussion about what took place, what was learned and what can be applied to real life from the activity.

Setting Expectations

There are many ways to communicate expectations to the students or participants. In fact, you may have a preferred method for your students that you use each day. Use whatever works best to set expectations, but, I suggest, all of the following five components in this example should be included in your own version of presenting expectations. Expectations should be set with your group or class prior to each team building activity to ensure safety and a quality experience.

The Five Finger Agreement

I have found the “Five Finger Agreement” to be a wonderful method for many reasons. It is a fun way to express expectations, it draws connections between the expectations and their hand and making it easier for students of all ages to remember the parts of the expectations. You will use this ‘Five Finger Agreement’ to manage behaviors during the team building session. In chapter 4, it will be discussed how daily behavior management can be made easier with this method.

Begin by announcing all the parts of the Agreement while modeling them on a hand. Have students interact by guessing the significance of each finger before the meaning is announced to them. Have fun with presenting this, as the delivery will sell it convincingly or cause it to flop. 

Pinkie Finger: Symbolizes Safety. It has the smallest bones in your hand and can easily break. This is our reminder for everyone to stay safe and act safely at all times. 

Ring Finger: Symbolizes Commitment. In this case, the commitment is to the activity, goal achievement, and other team members. 

Middle Finger: Symbolizes Respect. Yes, this one is a little funny for when this finger is raised by itself, it can offend a large audience quickly and efficiently. Thus, this finger will have the opposite meaning for us, as it will symbolize respect. (Point at your middle finger when raised with the index finger and ring fingers.)

Index Finger: Symbolizes Responsibility. (Point index finger towards students) Ask students how many fingers are pointing towards them and how many are pointed back at you. One is pointed towards the students and 3 are pointing back at your self. This suggests that while it is easy to blame someone else (1 finger pointing), you have a greater need to be responsible for yourself (3 pointing back). 

Thumb: Symbolizes Fun. This serves as a reminder to try to not lose sight of our perspective.  It’s a game and all should have a good time. This includes you, the teacher! 

Depending on the age and the type of the group, you may want to conclude this Five Finger Agreement by “Signing the Agreement.” I do this by asking students to give each other and me “High Fives.” I’ve done it this way for groups ranging from 4th graders though middle school with success. However, I do see a diminishing return the older participants are. Regardless, I do like the message it’s sending about the tone of the team building session and the message they get about me, “This will be fun and my teacher has a playfulness to him.”

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