The Basic Components of Team Building – Facilitation Planning

The planning of a quality lesson should include thinking through the components to be discussed and picking an activity. No more than 20 minutes should be used to plan an activity. Once done, you should be able to use a successful lesson plan for many years! 

The first step is to pick a skill that you wish to isolate. We will isolate leadership, as it is the main focus of this book. However, other skills that can be isolated include communication, creativity, coordination, and more.  

Once a skill has been chosen, its time to write out your goals and purposes for the activities. As a reminder, they should include a  Stated Goal, Stated Purpose, Unstated Goal and Unstated Purpose. 

It may seem as though having a secret from the students with the unstated goal and unstated purpose may not be the best idea. It could be seen as tricking or needlessly deceiving the students. I suggest that this deception is, in fact, critical and the goal of teaching leadership within the class is best not taught directly. Each student has already made conscious and unconscious decisions about what their role will be in class and will resist actively changing the landscape of the tacit power and social structures that currently exist.

Next, you will pick a team building activity. Activities can be found just about anywhere; from the web, a book, this book, a friend or creating your own. There are so many good options that exist for free from the Internet, that it may be anyone’s best starting point. When selecting an activity, envision how you would facilitate the activity, how you would adjust the parameters and how you see your group might match the game’s skill level. Finally consider safety, feasibility and materials.  Once you have reached this step, most of your work is done.

Finally you have the debrief questions to consider and as you may remember from the story, Ryan wrote his questions as the game was wrapping up. This is just fine if you feel comfortable doing so or have been doing team building for a while. At first, I recommend that questions are prepared ahead of time.  Should you have questions prepared ahead of time, try to come up with specific questions that reference specific events, that have to do with the events that went on during the game. Those questions often help get to more in depth discussions quicker and waste less time. 

The best questions get at your own curiosity about the events that unfolded that day and about why they took place.  What you notice, but don’t know much about are often the same things that others notice and may have a good story to tell about why it happened. You can get into the thought process of your students or you may stumble onto a tacit social/power structure that should be unearthed and discussed openly as a group. For example, why a subgroup of students seems to follow an individual or why two subgroups don’t coexist very well.  

Activity Note Worksheet Format

Below, you will find a spreadsheet with two fields that can be used to take easy and efficient notes during the activity. The first of the total of three fields is simply the name of the student. If you have multiple groups, organize your groups on this sheet if you can.  

The second field is the first of a total of two to be done during the activity. This one is labeled as “leader #.” This refers to the order in which students begin behaving/acting as a leader.  Filling this out can be tricky as several students may begin acting as a leader simultaneously. The closest estimation of order or giving two students the same number ranking may be the best solution. 

Another difficulty with this field comes from trying to distinguish a leader from someone who is very active during the game. The simplest way to tell the difference is to ask yourself if this person is giving instructions to others or if he or she is acting on the words of others. This problem will work itself out with time and practice. Look carefully at what you are observing and not what you are predisposed to thinking about your students or biased by your prior experience with them. 

The next and final field is the “Observations” field. While briefly discussed before, let’s again think about writing observations to help you in class. Every year, I hear teachers in the second quarter of the school year exclaim that they are finally getting to know that it takes time to get to know a class. Helping to reduce this is how the observation field will become so useful.

Often, during the course of a class period, your attention is consumed with the immediate academic needs, behavior issues, and even events outside your class walls. This limits our quality chances to observe student interactions, mannerisms, motivations and so on. When you facilitate a teambuilding game, you have an opportunity that you don’t often have during a normal school day to stand back and study your students. These 10-minute activities will not allow you to get to know your class fully, but the above observations can be made that will help you know them better.

Writing observations that will serve a purpose and make your time worth it will be easy should you follow a few simple suggestions. Write about positive or negative interactions between two students you see. Write about who is or is not getting involved, where people stand and what they are saying by doing that. Write things down that you hear them say or do during the activity.

In the end the best advice is to write down anything that sparks your interest, anything that you didn’t know about your students prior to the game. If you know what is not working in your class or what you would like to see changed in your class then, it will be clear to you about what to write for observations. You will not need to work to find what you want, it will find you! 

Below, you will find an example spreadsheet. The example serves as a model for you about how this sheet can be used to write down anything that sparks your interest.

NAME Leader # Observations
Group 1

1. Lauren C. 4 Sent text during first 2 minutes, worked somewhat
2. Sarah L. 5 Stood to side and watched…
3. Victor D. 1 Had idea, tried it without consensus… idea rejected
4. Nina H. 7 Pitched in to complete task/wants others to agree
5. Brent M. 2 Consensus building is his focus, successful
6. David H 1 Had idea, did listen to others, helped in the end
7. Paul H. 3 Consensus builder, convinced easily, goofing with Dan
8. Dan K. 6 Many ideas, didn’t lead but pitching in
9. Shelley C. 1 Made side group to follow her idea, failed quickly
10. Montessa B. 3 Sly/Backhanded comments (funny) – good suggestion 
Group 2

1. Lauren S.  5 Talked to Cat, followed what Cat was doing
2. Catherine H. 6 Talked to Lauren, negative leader/ Controls social group
3. Marcy S. 3 I.D. “enemies” as usual, isolated them socially
4. Jonathon C. 2 Tried to sell idea, no one liked it, worked hard
5. Mike H. 6 Picked nose for attention/Now is screaming to be funny
6. Matt D. 4 Classic team player, nice guy, worked hard
7. Caroline D. 2 Helping somewhat / Used charm to unite group
8.  Julie C. 6 Teamed w/Richard (they work well)
9. Richard R. 1 Teamed w/Julie (they work well)
10. Chad M. 5 Shy/unsure/tried to help out several times

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