Relationships Through Team Building: Teaching Trailblazers VLOG


Hello ETTC Teaching Trailblazers!  I am thrilled to present another addition to our Vlog series: “Teaching Trailblazers with Chris from Education to the Core”.  The series will include interviews with a variety of professionals across multiple disciplines in our field of education.  In this episode, I have a conversation with a truly inspiring 7th Grade Math Teacher and Football Coach who provides some insight and examples for how to build positive relationships through team-building efforts. 

Enrique is so relatable and his passion for teaching, team building and love for his students truly show.  This moving dialogue leads up to a touching tribute to his passion for teaching and the love of his students.  It is educators like Enrique that remind me why I am in this field.  Why I’m sure possibly most of us chose this field… the students.  

Friend versus Authority

I feel at times teachers may feel afraid to lose their sense of authority as the “leader” of the class.  I want to kind of take this mindset of a leader to more of a guide for the class.  By guiding students through the curriculum you could allow them to lead where your instruction goes based upon need and interest.

Setting Expectations 

Starting by sharing your expectations will lay the foundation of any activity, lesson, or daily routine.  Setting clear expectations will not only motivate students to take personal responsibility but allow them to positively praise and acknowledge appropriate behavior.  Once you are acknowledging students appropriately and effectively begin building that rapport alongside positive, yet appropriate relationships.  

Building Trust through Active Listening 

Building positive and appropriate relationships all begin with listening.  Not just listening but actively listening.  To be an active listener you are not thinking about what the person is stating, but understanding it.  

To understand the dialogue you are paying attention to not only the speaker’s verbal language but their non-verbal language as well.  You want to retain the information by finding key details so you can respond by paraphrasing and ask open-ended questions.  By following these general guidelines you are showing students you are putting in the effort, truly listening, and are there for them.   

Team Building


One of the first steps when creating team-building opportunities within your classroom is to Identify your process for creating groups.   To be completely honest, we can have an entirely separate blog purely just focused upon how to do groupings.   Follows are just some options to think about, however, you always want to choose what works best for your students and the design of your classroom.  

  • Homogeneous Grouping: where you group students based upon the same skill or ability level.  This is a great option for differentiation based upon what group is sitting in front of you. 
  • Mixed Ability Groups: students will learn well based on this strategic grouping strategy.  The teacher will strategically place their strongest students intermingled among all the groups.  This will allow students of all ability levels to work together. 
  • Interest-Based Groups: If you are aware of different interests in your classroom you can choose this option.  The use of surveys, dialogue, discussions could reveal what students would work best upon a particular topic in hopes they connect with their common interest upon the topic or task. 
  • Students select their own group. The simplest way could just be to tell students to get into groups and trust them to do it.
  • Randomize Groups: This option provides the best way for speed and a quick transition.  There are several ways to randomly choose a group together: pick names out of a hat, use popsicle sticks, use a grouping app or website, index cards, or even just count off by numbers into the number of groups you wish to have.
Many of the centers in our 240 Literacy Center Bundle for 1st/2nd are no prep. Just print and you can begin incorporating team building for your students!

Assign Roles and Responsibilities 

Once you decide on your team-building technique and place your students into groups, it is time to assign the roles and responsibilities.  Creating roles will ensure that each member is held accountable individually as well as collectively.  Indicate roles that would be best for the age group you are working with as well as the activity at hand.  Roles can be as creative as you wish, however, some basic roles to get you started include, but not limited to: speaker or sharer, note taker, problem solver, material collector, etc. 

Before you begin your lesson and allow your students to break out into groups it is so important that you teach the expectations of each role on the team.  Typically you can have students in the group assign the roles themselves of whom will be each role.  I cannot move on from this topic unless I say…. Model, model, model!   Make sure you model your expectations of the roles to your class in order to allow yourself to provide specific positive praise.

Here is your chance to create roles and responsibilities for your 3rd graders. Check out our 3rd Grade Literacy Centers!

Problem Solve 

The probable goal is to allow the students to problem solve and find the solution to the task together.  Even though you already chose how to group, you placed the students in groups accordingly, you taught the expectations… your job is not finished just yet.  Here comes the fun part!   

While students are working in their groups is the time to walk around and listen!  Listening to student-led discussions will provide so much data to absorb and you can take notes as needed.  Hearing how they are problem-solving and working together will drive your instruction!  You will hear what groups may be confused about, you can hear when students need to be challenged more and can differentiate accordingly to the dialogue you are hearing.

Why are you passionate about teaching? Are you lucky enough to be a role model for a student of yours? We would love to hear about your team building activities and how you build positive relationships in the comments below!  Please make sure to subscribe to the ETTC YouTube channel. Make sure to like and share the video above!

Do You Inspire and Empower?

Do you feel you can inspire and empower Teaching Trailblazers of Education to the Core?  If so, you could be interviewed for our YouTube series “Teaching Trailblazers with Chris from ETTC”! Click here for your chance to share with ETTC what you are most passionate about and begin to pave the way for a better future for our teachers, for our students, and for education. 

Written by: Christopher Olson

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Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.