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Bridge Building

Plan. Design. Prototype.

Today was groundbreaking for our small and mighty team. We grew in number as we brought a new team member to our community, and we are so excited to welcome him! As we talked last week before our party celebrating our team contract signing, I asked our team this:
Is it more important to keep our team the same size and to continue to strengthen it or to take what we are learning and grow our team? As is the pattern these days, I was in awe of how our students responded. These are a few of their comments. 
"If we stay the same size we won't impact as many people."
"Growing helps up learn from even more teammates."
"Why wouldn't we want to share who we are and what we are doing with other people?"
With that said, we decided to try a new team building activity today as we added a new member. We watched the following Ted Talk, Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team, and then we added our own spin to the activity. Instead of spaghetti and marshmallows, we used straws, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks and a piece of apple. Our teams had to build a bridge connecting two tables that could hold a piece of apple in the middle. What we discovered was that they both had success in part of the challenge. One team accomplished the goal and had a bridge created and the apple piece in place with 7 minutes to spare, but part of their team didn't participate. The other team didn't get the bridge completed, but they laughed and worked as a team the entire time.
Is it more beneficial to complete an assigned task with or without your team, or to bond as a team but not complete your task? 
These are the types of conversations we are having, based on actual situations we have experienced. We can role play as often as we want, but what drives home the empathy and critical thinking we are striving for has added depth when they can apply it to a personal experience. I know that is not rocket science, however, it is the hands-on approach we are working hard to implement. This foundation is what makes our team stronger and more thoughtful as we welcome new members!
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