First graders ventured to one of their favorite places on campus for a recent field trip, the Lower School turf field. Student were quick to follow the directions given by Experiential Learning Director Kim Piersall, Hon."Toes on the line and a slow clap."
"Working as a team is a necessity in all aspects of our lives," explained 1st grade teacher Ginny Spofford, Hon.
Teaching the concept of teamwork at an early age is a staple of the Lower School curriculum. "This exercise is important for all students at Episcopal," observed Ms. Piersall. "It is important to begin this work with our younger students so that they can thoughtfully and intentionally begin the practice of being a part of something bigger than themselves."
As students carefully kept their toes on the line, they learned and used the "five finger contract."
1. Have a positive attitude
2. Take responsibility for yourself.
3. Use positive talk.
4. Think "we" not "me."
5. Remember that everyone has a role.
"First grade students work as a team throughout each school day," said Mrs. Spofford. "Team building activities help to support the children as they gain the skills they need to be positive team members throughout their daily lives."
Students rotated between four team building challenges. When the groups came back together, they discussed what they had learned and wrote down important take-aways to refer to throughout the school year.
"It is important for students at this age to know that they have the tools and resources to solve problems," said Ms. Piersall. "Being self-reliant and understanding that they together can figure out a puzzle or overcome a challenge without much adult intervention is empowering to them."
In the spring, the 1st grade will tackle the low ropes course at the Elmwood Park Zoo and again step out of their comfort zones and put their budding teamwork skills and "five finger contract" to use.
"I love having the opportunity to interact with the younger students," said Ms. Piersall. "Our students are very capable. Even our youngest [students] can surprise us. When pushed they can often do more than they think they can. We see the same outcome when we send our 9th graders on Outward Bound. Different degree of challenge, yet the same valuable lessons."