Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/977686

Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 20, 2014

Keota students learn there is no 'I' in teamwork

By David Hotle | Mar 20, 2013
A team of Keota High School students work together to place a golf ball in a bucket during teambuilding exercises Monday.

Turning an 8x10 foot tarp lying on the floor over is easy. Turning the same tarp over while at least 10 people are standing on it and aren’t allowed to touch the floor — not so much.

That was one of the challenges that faced the Keota High School students when they gathered in the elementary gym Monday afternoon to work on team building exercises. The students were also faced with the unenviable challenge of using a small washer with six strings tied into the center to carry golf balls to a waiting bucket. Teams of six students could only touch the strings to carry the balls and place them in the bucket. At the end of the afternoon’s events, the senior class was declared the winner of the games. Ag science teacher Dan Striegel took a minute before the students were dismissed for the day to reinforce the reason for the exercises.

“We can teach you math, we can teach you history, but it is really hard to teach getting along with and working with other people,” he said. “That is why we are doing this today.”

Striegel said he was amazed with the senior class’ solution to the tarp problem. They had two people drag the tarp over while they all jumped in unison. Principal Lisa Brenneman said that one class had stuck out as not working together and was unable to accomplish the tasks as well as the other classes.

The program is part of a new initiative Keota High School began this school year, which includes a 35-minute intervention period at the end of the school day to provide support for students on an individual basis. Once a month, teachers get the opportunity to work with students as a group to teach team-building activities. Brenneman said this is designed to improve the culture and relationships between students as well as between students and teachers.

“We did a survey last fall about our school culture and some things the kids we thought we needed to improve or try to do,” Striegel said. “Through that we came up with two or three goals for our staff. One of the goals was learning teamwork and interpersonal relationship skills.”

He said the challenge for teachers is coming up with activities that require students to work as a team. Teachers brainstormed Monday’s events about two weeks earlier. Striegel said that he does not know what challenges the students will face next month.

“We have a positive culture committee and they define what we need to do and how to work together,” Brenneman said.

Striegel said that during ag projects, the students had to work as a group. He said that in any job people do, they must be able to work with others.

“If you can’t work with people, it is really going to limit what you can do,” he said. “When we all work together, we can accomplish so much more.”

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