Teaching Teamwork

Post date: Aug 13, 2014 9:47:16 PM

I love video games (if somehow that hadn't been made clear already.) At some point last year I read about a teacher who introduces groupwork in his class by describing it as a game of Call of Duty. There's nothing worse than right when the game starts someone on your own team turns around and shoots you. 3 minutes of waiting all to end just like that. It saps the fun out of it and your whole team is done for. Yet, this happens. All. The. Time.

So, today, I introduced teamwork to my classes. I made it clear that this wasn't groupwork. It was individual work with assistance from their team. I shared the CoD analogy and made it clear that "team killers" are not welcome in my classroom. I also talked about how one person cannot carry a team alone and used the herculean effort of U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard in our final match of the World Cup this Summer. He set a ton of records for goalkeeping that game and we still lost. It takes a full team working together to get things done.

After the intro they did a task where they had to choose who they would save from a deserted island - an idea I got from the incredible Teach Like a Pirate. The lesson wasn't perfect (they rarely are the first time we try them) but the lesson itself was. They got it. They worked together amazingly well all day long. It gives me great hope for the team work to come.

Some might say I "lost" a day today by not covering content but I'd argue I gained well over a day over the course of the year with the setup and team building we did today. Plus, the beauty of Common Core is that you never truly lose a day if you are teaching skills. The teams had to write a justification for each decision they made. I didn't make the decisions easy (What do you do with the plant expert who has two young kids waiting for her at home and no father around?) so they had to truly weigh evidence and thoughts before making a decision.

I truly think this will pay off over the course of the year and I'm eager to see how.

Teaching teamwork gets my full recommendation.