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What does team work look like?


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A friend and I are co-coaching a First Lego League robotics team. Most of the kids in the team did not know each other before hand and we have 8 kids from ages 9-13 in the group. Three are homeschooled; the others attend ps and all say they have ADHD. FLL highly emphasizes working as a team so we have been practicing team-building exercises. Plus, they need to work as a team to build and program the robots. We have found we had to start VERY basic. At first we tried to get them all to stand on a blanket and then turn the blanket over without anyone stepping off the blanket. This was too difficult for them to co-ordinate This is how it went:

 

Kid #1 starts with an idea and basically tells the other kids what to do.

Kid #2 says ok, does anyone else have an idea?

Kids #3 &4 are silent

Kids 5, 6 and 7 are flopping around on the blanket.

Kid #8 gets pushed off the blanket

Kid #1 tries to get them all to try her idea.

About half the kids actually try to do it, the others just kind of flop around. We do have problems with kids focusing, especially the younger ones. Eventually we stopped the exercise and talked about how it went. Some kids didn't like being so close to other kids. Some kids felt like Kid #1 was too bossy, then there were some sarcastic remarks thrown around. We decided to start with an easier task next time.

 

Last time we set up a ~10 ft by 6inch strip of cardboard and had the group try to figure out how to achieve this task: A kid starts at one end and another kid starts at the other end. Then they have to walk to the opposite end of the cardboard, but neither kid can step off the card board. This did go a lot better, but I saw similar actions as during the blanket activity. Kid #1 took charge and Kid #2 tried to mediate, but most of the kids were either silent or wanted to jump in and try it without discussing it.

 

So, I am wondering what good team work is really supposed to look like. It seems as though there has to be a strong leader to get things going and keep the group on track and organized, but the kids resist this. This may be because Kid #1 is the only girl plus she has a strong personality and the others don't want to be bossed around with her. Alternatively, are they supposed to collectively provide input and then somehow come to a consensus? I am wondering if I need to give them a model to follow or if we should just keep on doing it the trial and error way. Any thoughts on what good team work looks like or how to develop it appreciated. :)

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Just a bump and a "good luck" wish for you.

 

Maybe start with simpler activities that don't involve figuring out a strategy, but just require teamwork. One thing my younger kids do in a dance class is they stand in a circle holding hands. The circle is broken only to introduce a hula hoop onto someone's arm. Then, they have to step through the hula hoop and pass it on to the next person without letting go of hands.

is a youtube video of some older kids doing this.
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Thanks for the idea. We will give it a try. :) Yes, I see we need to start very simply. My kids make a lot of Dilbert jokes over this whole thing, so at least we get to have some fun too.

 

We find meetings go best when the kids start off with a group activity as a warm up. Then they are better able to focus on building robots or writing the presentation.

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I agree with the advice you have already been given and your original post certainly makes me think you are on the right track.

 

I had similar issues coaching an Odyssey of the Mind team last year -- all the members were first time OM-ers and while I inherited the team from someone else long after the time for team-building, I had to spend a fair amount of 'problem-solving' time on 'team-building.'

 

I searched ALL OVER (google, Amazon) (and found) team building activities for groups similar to OM and FLL. I would do the simplest ones and we would move from there.

 

This year for OM we are spending the first 2 or 3 months doing team building - problem-solving will not start until the Coach deems the team ready to start. HTH

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