With the beginning of the year starting online, creating and authentic classroom community and facilitating relationship building among your students comes with a new challenge. Here are our ideas for making authentic team building happen in your virtual classroom.
1. Favorite Things
This can be a great daily icebreaker for your class because it can be so versatile. For this activity, assign a favorite thing topic, such as “favorite toy”, “Favorite thing you did this weekend”, “Favorite food” Then, give everyone a chance to answer. This is a great activity for a morning meeting, or just to start or end the day. The best part is, students will get to know each other, everyone gets a chance to speak, and there is no fear of having the wrong answer.
2. Tell Jokes
Jokes are one of the quickest and easiest ways to take a little break and infuse some energy into your class through laughter. Laughing together as a team is always a great way to create strong bonds and have fun positive experiences together. This might be something you do several times a day especially in the first few months of the year. There are many ways to incorporate joke-telling into your classroom. You can provide some jokes for kids to tell each other or the whole class. Students can invent their own jokes. You can also keep a kid’s joke book handy and pull it out when your class needs a little chuckle.
3. Virtual Recess
With virtual teaching, students are missing out on their usual unstructured social time. It’s important that they have the time to play together and build their friendships. See where you can add some virtual recess time to your schedule. Designate a few online games that students can choose to play and have them pick what they want to do, then have them go to break out rooms or designated zoom meetings for their preferred activity. Take it one step further and let students brainstorm a list of virtual recess activities that they would like to do. They will likely come up with some great ideas. You can also change up the activities anytime to keep things interesting.
4. Dedicated Game Time
It’s so important to also paly together as a whole group. Shared play is one of the best ways for people (children or adults) to bond. Look for online games that you can play with the whole group, this can be anything your class likes, such as charades, 20 questions, or Pictionary. Give your class time to bond over regularly scheduled game time.
5. Student of the week
I always loved having a student of the week in my class. The student of the week had two major roles, They would get to share all about themselves and bring special items to share with the class. They also were able to take any leadership roles that were available, like facilitating morning meetings, being a line leader etc. This is a great way to foster team building because student get to know each other over time and everyone gets to participate in leadership. When kids know that they are going to get a chance to be a leader, it encourages them to take more ownership over the group and facilitates team building. Virtual classrooms will provide new and different leadership roles that your students can take on. Think about the systems and routines you are establishing in your virtual classroom and think of areas where students can take on a bit more responsibility.