Friday, May 3, 2013

The NMS & YES Joy Factor

In a field outside of Northbrook Middle School, mixed groups of Northbrook and YES Prep teachers looked out at three wooden platforms and waited for their directions. "Using two 2x4 planks and without anyone touching the ground," they were told, "you must successfully get your team of 8 across three wooden 'islands.' The first team to successfully cross the islands wins!"

Northbrook and YES Prep teachers attempt to successfully
complete the "Island Crossing" challenge.
Immediately, teacher teams began strategizing, brainstorming, hearing each other's tips and tricks for how to successfully complete the challenge. Minutes later, teachers were huddling together to appropriately weigh down one end of a plank, extending an outstretched hand to help a team member in the crossing, or cheering on their teammates as they successfully reached the other side.

"Island Crossing" was one of a series of team-building opportunities that Northbrook Middle School Principal Valerie Johnson and YES Prep Northbrook School Director Cendie Stanford arranged for their sixth joint professional development session. While sessions in the past focused on sharing academic and pedagogical best practices, this one was all about celebrating the "joy factor" and allowing the two teams of staff to come together in a creative and fun setting.

Teachers use each other for support and balance in the
"Surfing" challenge.
At nearby stations, other mixed teams navigated challenges such as the Human Spider Web and the Rope Swing. Teachers laughed over unsuccessful attempts, collaborated to come up with winning strategies and cheered each other across finish lines.

The day ended with a spread of ice cream sundaes served by Northbrook and YES Prep students. Teachers were thanked not only for their efforts out on the fields, but more importantly for their teamwork and dedication in their classrooms each and every day.

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