At my building, we believe strongly in making students feel a part of something. To achieve that goal, we are all part of teams. My team of two teachers holds monthly meetings with the students to recognize achievements and participate in a teambuilder.
Each month, we select a student from each homeroom to receive an award in each subject. We keep track of these students on a chart to avoid choosing the same students repeatedly. Birthdays and students who were “all done” all month are also recognized. Finally, we award the coveted “Team” award to one student from each homeroom.
The team meeting begins with birthdays. Students who have a birthday during that month are called up in front where we sing to them. Then, they are given a card and a small treat. (Because students at this age are always shy about coming up in front, I announce the birthdays by informing the students that we always start our team meetings with a healthy dose of humiliation. They think that’s hilarious).
After birthdays, math, science, reading, writing and social studies awards are handed out. We usually reference something during the month that the students have done to earn the award. (We do keep it pretty general – just for ease of giving out the awards every month. For instance, we might mention that these students worked really hard on their personal narrative in writing class).
Next, those students who have been part of the All Done Club all month (see my post about the All Done Club earlier in this blog). Students in this group also receive a paper award.
Finally, we call up the two students who earned the coveted Team award. This year, we’re the Titanic Team, so our Team award will reflect that. We review the types of things that earn this award and then applaud those two students.
The chart that we keep track of student awards on helps us make sure every students gets recognized sometime during the year. Even the most challenging students, at some time, do something worth recognizing. We believe it’s important to hold the awards to a high standard, but we also believe every student is worthy of recognition for something they have done well.
Once we’ve recognized our students, we move into the teambuilding activity. True confession time: most of our activities involve completing the task without talking because it means the classroom doesn’t get too noisy. It is highly entertaining to see our normally talkative students try to work with a group without talking. It certainly ups the challenge!
Some teambuilding activities we’ve done in the past include:
- building the tallest tower using only 10 pieces of construction paper and 10 paper clips
- spelling out words by forming the letters with their bodies
- generating the most words from a teacher stated word (like Thanksgiving)
- playing kickball – homeroom vs homeroom
- human knot
- creating Valentines for the Valentines for Vets program
The students love having the team meetings and look forward to them each month. For just 30 minutes once a month, they are well worth the effort. We generally do the first Thursday of the month, and the students keep track and ask about it every month!
What do you do to help students stay connected? I’d love to steal (I mean respectfully borrow!) your ideas!