Aug 292011
 

I suspect that this post may end up somewhat incoherent because I’m still absolutely knackered from the weekend and my brain is somewhat mushy (moreso than usual, anyway). The reason I’m so tired is that I spent the weekend with 32 sixth-year pupils and around 10 staff from Grangemouth High School at their team-building weekend. We were across at the Scout centre at Fordell Firs in Fife. The weekend was a mixture of of team-building exercises, activities and challenges. Add very little time off and very little sleep to that mix and you have a very intense weekend.

The purpose of the weekend is quite clear – the school hopes to benefit from a sixth-year who can work as an effective team, encouraging each other, acting as role-models for the lower years, and maintaining and enhancing the school’s reputation in the community. The way this is done is through breaking down the natural, small teams of friends and demonstrating, through the challenges, how much can be achieved when the bigger team is working effectively. It helps highlight individual capabilities and promote the shared pleasure of success when a task is completed.

Whether that worked or not can only be assessed by the school over the coming year as the group take the skills they have developed and begin to apply them to the work they do with the rest of the year group and with the rest of the school.

I, personally, very much enjoyed the weekend, for all sorts of reasons. Much of the ministry formation training covers team-working, team-management skills, self-understanding and so on. It was fascinating being on the other side of that – ‘teaching’ it rather than being taught it. it was also fascination seeing how others seek to ‘build teams’. I don’t want to appear critical of any staff or of the methods used, but it seemed there was a little too much focus on the ‘correct’ method. We’ve had the benefit of having many different approaches, often accompanied by the grumble, “Oh, this again. Same stuff, different words.” It’s only when you see it being applied that you begin to appreciate the variations and the nuances of the various approaches. I’m very glad we didn’t get exposed to the ‘correct’ way of doing team-building.

As I say, only the school can judge the success of the weekend through the effectiveness of the current sixth-year, but there were a few personal highlights from the weekend that are less about the team and more about individuals.

Over the weekend I got to interact with most of the pupils, and with some more than others. Sometimes you just ‘get’ someone and realise there are underlying issues. When, over the course of the weekend, you see those underlying issues being dealt with and the affirmation of a positive change being stated, then that has to be celebrated as a major triumph. (Sorry if that’s a bit vague, but, for obvious reasons, I don’t want to give too much detail.) And when someone else overcomes a deep fear of doing something, bites the bullet, and succeeds, then that too is a major triumph.

Of course, these personal successes feed into the overall effectiveness of the team, but in focusing on the team, these personal triumphs can often be overlooked. But it is through building on strong, confident individuals who know their capabilities (and limitations) and their worth, that teams are indeed greater than the sum of their parts.

So, a ‘very well done’ to all the sixth-years who took part and ‘grew up’ so much over such a short time, and also a hearty ‘thank you’ to the staff who give of their time for the event because they believe in the value of it, not just for the school, but for the young people themselves.