THE NEWGATE MONTESSORI WAY Posted by Cheryl Allen. Tuesday, March 17, 2015
We look forward to team building every Monday afternoon. It gives us a chance to work with groups of students in different ways and observe the ways they work with each other. We carved the time out of our week when two things were happening in our lower elementary class; the last hour of Friday (after PE) was difficult and we had some students who were creating problems because they were having so much trouble dealing with others. It began as an experiment to solve those problems and developed into a very important part of our class, one that was helpful enough to our class that it found a new time when our schedule changed.
Often we set up the guidelines and only step in to a group if asked or if we observe that a member of the group needs our help. Sometimes we set the groups up very carefully and sometimes we assign groups more randomly; we always see new things with new groups and notice patterns that can guide help we give individually. All students learn from this group work and grow, for a few students that growth may be staying with their group from beginning to end of a project. An important part of our group work is sharing what went well and what they would do differently next time.
Today we went outside for team building. The excitement this caused was unbelievable, there could not have been more speculation, questions, and people who ?knew? what was happening if the President had come for a tour! We gathered in a circle and explained our guidelines. We would say a classmate's name, share a fact we knew about that classmate, and then toss the classmate a ball of yarn while maintaining a hold on the yarn. We shared that the point was to choose someone you do not always play with or hangout with and let them know you notice them. We talked about not sharing secrets and gave examples. Many sibling names, parent's professions, pet, and vacation information was shared and the recipient always smiled to know that these facts were known by others.
When everyone had recognized and been recognized we had a beautiful web, strong and raised well off the ground. We talked about how we were all a part of this group and we were all important to the group. Then we looked at what happened if one person stopped showing up, or was unkind, or disrespectful. As one by one each child let go of their part of the yarn we could actually see the web weaken and fall closer to the ground. We could also see that we could support one or two people at a time when it was needed, not every piece of yarn fell to the ground. We ended with Ms. Gabriela and myself trying to hold up a sagging mess of yarn?it didn't work. All of us could see that everyone in the group helped our group as a whole, encouraging and supporting each other even just by being a kind and respectful part of the group.