We all know that building bonds between team members is an important part of creating a sense of community and shared responsibility for one another. Having a strong bond can be especially important for educators. After all, being able to share assignments, trust one another to give great advice for difficult student interactions, and work together to make governing curriculum decisions is crucial to a high-functioning educational workplace.
That said, team building activities often miss the mark. They can feel too forced and kitschy, leaving staff waiting for a polite time to exit rather than making meaningful connections with their colleagues. If you want to create a meaningful team building experience, don’t despair! There are some truly engaging activities, and some of them are simpler than you’d ever imagine.
Escape rooms are popping up all over the country as a fun activity. It’s like a board game brought to life, and teams have to solve puzzles, work together, and think on their feet to beat the clock and escape within the time limit. These escape rooms are particularly great team building exercises because the shared goal gets people talking and interacting, and the well-designed gameplay helps highlight different strengths and perspectives as an imperative part of a great team.
Taking the team to a professional escape room is one option, but you can also create a less expensive homemade version. Just make sure that you have puzzles of different types (word, number, knowledge, etc.) so that everyone gets a chance to let their skills shine. Come up with a fun theme that will inspire the décor and clues and let your team work together to escape the room and build their connections.
A team building exercise is designed to help people see the strengths of their colleagues and build trust in them. We often spend a lot of time setting up artificial opportunities to do this, but we can forget that there are plenty of real-life opportunities just waiting for us. Doing community service together is a great way to build authentic camaraderie and trust in one another.
Whether it’s an ongoing activity (cleaning up a street once a month) or a single afternoon (build a playground, plant a tree, walk dogs at the animal shelter), volunteering together can help make a team stronger and more connected—and it makes a difference in the community at large as a bonus!
Educators are often pressed for time and have their own family responsibilities to juggle. Hosting a family potluck allows them to get together in a fun environment that allows them to merge their worlds. Eating a communal meal is a classic team building activity for a reason. Sharing food while also getting to chat about life and work in a fun environment gives people who wouldn’t normally have time to get to know one another the space to build friendships that they can then sustain and build for years to come.
Remember the main goals of team building: to get people talking, to highlight different strengths, and to build trust in one another. As you think about meaningful team building experiences, remember that they don’t have to be overly complex or too forced. Give people the space and opportunity to connect and let them build their ties in an authentic and meaningful way.