Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why Do We Wait?

Last week I traveled to Camp Brady Spruce with our 5th grade students, and it was amazing!  Our students had a wonderful time at camp.  For some of our students, it was an experience like no other experience that they ever encountered.  I am so proud of our 5th grade campers. 

Student really bonded and learned so much about themselves and others at camp.  They participated in team building activities, hikes, canoe riding, and of course, KICKBALL!  It was really rewarding to observe students as they problem solved in the team building exercises.  At first, students are unsure of how to approach a problem and work together to succeed.  The parent chaperones would fidget on the sidelines wanting to jump in and help the kids, but the camp counselors requested that the kids figure it out for themselves.  The kids would figure it out!  They learned to trust each other, help each other, and even ask for help when they needed it.  This experience allowed some of our students to transform and realize their own leadership potential. 

At the end of every school year, we offer many opportunities for team building at Curtis.  We have our End of Year Celebration in May, which for the older students is preceded by several weeks of KICKBALL practice.   I was once one of those teachers that prepared my students for victory on this special day. Some might say that I was way too into it.   I learned that if my class worked well together, they could claim their trophy as the champs!  It always helps to have skilled players on the team, but when you know you are outperformed athletically, strategy can overcome.  As a teacher, I made sure my students operated like a well oiled machine and played well together. (It also helped that I was also a member of kickball team.... and I am not too shabby either).  When one of my teams lacking the talent faced an opponent full of talented students that argued and disagreed, we would win!  My students would work together and use strategy to outplay the other teams.  It is all about building a healthy team and providing students with opportunities to lead others.  This time of year is so fun!  Then after we had so much fun learning from each other, school would end.

I always have questioned why we save the fun team building experiences for the end.  While we do some team building activities the first few weeks of school, we all too often will get caught up in classwork and assessments (which is very important) and  lose sight of how important it is to build a strong, healthy team within our classrooms.   Think of the possibilities!  Building this strong team with some good, old-fashioned competition or going to camp at the beginning of year might build a strong team.  One that is trusting, willing to take risks together, and learn together.