For years the Middle School has welcomed students in customary ways on the first day of school with new lockers and syllabi. But it’s the magic that happens on the second day of school, putting aside the normal routine of classes, that really sets the stage for a year of personal growth and learning.
They call it the Middle School Team Building Day.
With knowledge of the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning, Middle School teachers design an entire day dedicated to creating safe, joyful, and engaging learning communities where all students have a sense of belonging and feel significant.
Students dress in their comfortable Saint Andrew’s School PE clothes and sneakers, and in a sea of white and red, they have fun while learning about honor, integrity, and community - all core values at Saint Andrew’s School.
“Our message to students on this day is that we learn best when we feel safe and work together,” remarked Penny Potts-Hawk, grade 7 Math teacher and Co-Team Leader, during her supervision of the grade 7 activity called “Robot.” The game invites students to step out of their comfort zones using blindfolds while getting to know one another. She went on, “It’s so important that teachers start their year by using language and introducing processes that promote empathy-rich dialogue and healthy problem-solving so that they can build trust with their students.”
Interactive games and icebreakers are designed by teachers to facilitate movement, communication, reflection, inquiry, and most of all collaboration. “I’m seeing students come up with so many interesting, never-before-seen ways of solving this,” commented Nathalie Young, grade 6 World Languages Teacher and Team Leader as she watched the Balloon Tower challenge. “We gave them the rules verbally, and time to plan in their small groups. Then we saw so much creativity!”
“We’ve been doing Team Building Day for over a decade. What I’m most impressed with is that so many of our students use this valuable time to learn how to work together and respect one another,” beamed Ann Haynes, as she looked on at a dynamic group of middle schoolers involved in an activity. “It is an emotionally resonant experience for students, and the community building that it promotes provides teachers with a deeper understanding of each student.”