What do you know about teamwork?

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Unexpectedly, but gladfully, I taught grade 8. When teachers are absent from school, the communication is not always clear when a teacher will be gone. This was the case for grade 8’s life skills teacher. The School for the Visually Impaired does not have the resources to call for a substitute teacher, so while the Pointers are here we step in for the the teachers!

Walking around the school grounds, I was searching for grade 5; instead, I stumbled across grade 8. Sitting patiently outside a locked door, grade 8 learners were attempting to keep themselves quietly occupied. The learners told me that that were missing Life Skills. Quickly, I drew on my experiences and decided that these learners would benefit from a lesson on teamwork.

At the school, I had not seen the students work together on a large scale. Most of the time, they work independently. To be a productive member of society, it is essential to be able to work in a team. Through my lesson, I hoped the children would learn the importance of communication, cooperation, patience and critical thinking. At the end of each mini-game, I started a brief discussion to have learners make connections to teamwork.

I started the lesson with playing a quick game of Telephone. The students were familiar with the activity, but they all still got a kick out of the activity. During the discussion, they recognized the need to listen carefully to their team members.


Next, the students and I played Group Juggle. Group Juggle was helpful for me to learn all the students names, but it also was more practice with communication. It took awhile for us to get through each stage of the activity, but every student wanted to try the challenge of the next level. Afterwards, the students had made strides in communicating, and in patience level. I knew that they were then ready for the final activity.

My final activity is an all time favorite of mine – the Human Knot. To complete the Human Knot, the learners have to cooperate, be patient, communicate and critically think. Ending with this activity emphasizes the key components of teamwork. I participate in the knot, but I am silent the entire time. It was wonderful to watch the learners talk through the problem in their hands. Grade 8 learners did not get frustrated, and they were laughing as they guided each other through the activity. When the period was over, the learners didn’t want to stop to go their next period.

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Later on the week, I taught the same lesson to grade 7 and grade 9. Each class had very different experiences with the activities, but each time the learners were laughing and working together. These activities were hands-on and promoted teamwork at its core. I am glad that I was able to lead these activities for the students, but I also saw leaders emerge from my learners, which was the most rewarding part of the lesson.


Cierra Bartol-Byers, a senior elementary education major at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, is blogging about her study abroad experience in Namibia, Africa.