Tag Archives: Community Builder

Thursday’s Tip: Community-Building vs. Team-Building

Wiesbaden students build Corps castle for Tin Can Construction project
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While searching out links for yesterday’s post, I noticed how the terms “community-building” and “team-building” were interchanged for the same kinds of activities. There seems to be some confusion between the two terms and the purpose each fulfills. Each can support the other, but they are two very practices that fill different needs.

Community-building is what you do to build relationships with and among students in a classroom (or school). These kinds of activities promote a positive learning environment where students feel comfortable to share and take risks. A strong classroom community supports the achievement of all.

Team-building happens within small groups, particularly those in cooperative learning structures. When groups are set for a project or activity, team-building helps team members to get to know their mates. Granted, in a lot of smaller school schools, students may already know a lot about each other. However, they don’t always know how to work together or how each of them learns. We have to create instances where leadership, strengths, and needs are revealed so that teams can be more successful.

Community-building can support team-building. If a class already has a strong communal feel, they are more likely to carry that same feeling over to their smaller groups. When students feel ownership and pride in their classroom community, they will feel that it is important to contribute to their cooperative groups.

Team-building can support community-building. Even though a classroom environment may support a strong community, individual students may not fully buy-in with the idea that every classmate has value in said community. Team-building helps support community-building on a micro level. Students learn more about and how to work with each student in their team, strengthening the bonds of the class overall.

While much of the difference is just semantics, it is key to understand the purposes of and relationships between community- and team-building. How have you used one to support the other? Where do you see the biggest difference between community- and team-building? What activities can be easily adapted to support both?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: Building Classroom Community

Team Building Rochester, NY - Simon School MBA  (25)
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Although the best time to initially build classroom communities was the beginning of the year, it’s never too late to build community. Additionally, community can grow and develop throughout the school year. This week’s list of links should provide some great resources and ideas for building and developing the community in your classroom:

  • eTheme’s team-building activities (Link1 / Link2)
  • Wilderdom.com’s list of Group Activities, Games, Exercises & Initiatives (Link1 / Link2)
  • Team building activities from a 4-H organization in Iowa (PDF)
  • Warm-up activities from Youthwork (Link)
  • Ultimate Camp Resource (Link)
  • All Aboard Group Work & Leadership Training (Link)
  • The Ohio State University’s Building Dynamic Groups (Link)
  • Youthwork Links and Ideas. Group Problem-solving Initiatives (Link)

What kinds of lessons and activities do you use to build community in your classroom? How does team-building support community-building? What are some other great resources you have found for team and community-building?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center in beautiful Columbia, Missouri.

Friday 4ALL: Build Your Community Now

Teaching is a hard, hard job. After a teacher has completed paperwork, planned lessons, taken attendance, greeted parents dropping off their children, made phone calls, sent book orders, put up bulletin boards, updated websites, organized manipulatives… she still has many other responsibilities not specifically cited in her contract. This is why spending the extra time to build community is so important.

Building classroom community is as important as passing out text books and assigning seats, maybe even more important than those processes. A strong classroom community allows a teacher to be able to try cooperative learning structures, creates an atmosphere of success, and often helps in lowering the instances of misbehavior. More can be accomplished when the students have a good relationship with their teachers and each other.

Community building can be accomplished in several ways. First, there needs to be a concerted effort for students and teachers to get to know each other. We tend to work better with those we know as compared to strangers. Ways in which this can be accomplished is through get-to-know-you games and displays that introduce students to their community.

Collaboratively creating classroom norms and procedures is a second way to build your classroom community. Not only will students have a clear understanding of classroom expectations, they will also feel ownership in how the class operates. This can be done at the beginning of the year with the understanding that revisions can be made to fit every situation.

Team building is a close cousin to community building. Whenever we place learners in small groups, it’s best to do something to help them build rapport and teamwork. There are hundreds of team building games all over the internet. Use one every time you divide into teams as an ice-breaker.

Whatever you do this school year, remember that building a strong community will make your job easier in the long-run. It’s never too late to build community, but it gets harder as the year goes by. So, do something today to build your classroom community!

What do you do to insure a strong classroom community? What have you done today to build classroom community?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

Puzzles as Community Builders

eMINTS Instructional Specialist Carla Chaffin brings us a great idea to use a puzzle as a community builder from BrainDen.com:

This would be great for a team or community builder with any group. You would not have to actually have the items on hand (scale and tennis balls). The puzzle is more for thinking through.

The puzzle Carla is suggesting is “Weighing IV” and works like this:

Weighing IV.
One of twelve tennis balls is a bit lighter or heavier (you do not know which) than the others. How would you identify this odd ball if you could use an old two-pan balance scale only 3 times?

You can only balance one set of balls against another, so no reference weights and no weight measurements.

The solution to this puzzle can be found here, but please visit BrainDen.com for more puzzles that will make your students think!