With school just around the corner, it’s important to rally your staff together for some good old professional development. When a school staff is pumped up, excited to start the year and working as a team, the effects of that energy trickle down to your students and school community. 

Team-building activities help build relationships as well as relax the room. This is especially true when the activities are facilitated well and appropriate for the group. Here are 10 of our favorite team-building activities for staff and faculty, whether your staff has known each other for years or are meeting each other for the first time. 

Name Games

Best for a lot of new faces on the team


Team Juggling

What you need: plenty of space and three soft items good for tossing around

The way it works: Get everyone into a circle. Introduce yourself and throw the first item to someone else, saying their name. If you do not know their name, ask! They should toss the item to another person, saying their name until every person has received the item. 

Next, begin again, repeating the order. As the first round is going, start a new round with another item, throwing it to a different person. Do this with the third item. Soon, you’ll have two-three items in rotation with every member alert and ready to receive the oncoming item. 


Introduce Your Partner

What you need: willing participants

The way it works: Have each person pair up with someone they do not know well. Set a time limit (2 minutes should be enough) and have one person tell the other about themselves. When time is up, switch and repeat so both parties have a turn. 

Next, going around the room, have each person briefly introduce their partner, sharing out highlights and important or interesting information about the person. 


Get-to-Know-You Activities

Best for a staff acquainted and friendly but doesn’t know each other well

How Much Does It Take to Get the Job Done?

What you need: roll of toilet paper

The way it works: Have your team get into a circle. Pass around the roll of toilet paper, asking everyone to take as much as it takes to “get the job done.” Don’t clarify. Once everyone has their toilet paper, begin by introducing yourself and stating one fact about yourself for each square of toilet paper you took. Go around the circle and invite members of staff to do the same. The more squares they took, the more facts they have to share.


Staff Bingo

What you need: prepared list/bingo boards (here’s a bingo-card generator)

The way it works: Prior to the activity, you can create a bingo-card or a list of items/facts about your staff. You can also ask each person to submit to you a random fact about themselves they think no one else knows about them. Every person gets a bingo-card and they’re encouraged to talk to one another to fill it up. First one to do so, wins. Here’s a list of ideas:


Find someone in the room who …

  • Doesn’t like pizza
  • Has a cat and a dog
  • Has been to a Beyonce concert
  • Only eats Chinese food with a fork
  • Uses Google Docs
  • Drives a Prius
  • Doesn’t have an iPad
  • Liked the Game of Thrones finale
  • Writes in cursive
  • Is left-handed

Beach Ball Questions

What you need: beach ball

The way it works: Write numbers around the beach ball. Assign a question to each number. Think of open-ended questions and what you want your staff to know about each other. Toss the ball around the room. Each person who catches it should answer the question corresponding to the number closest to their hand. Once they’ve answered the question, they should toss the ball to another person.


Fact Bag

What you need: pens, paper, and a bag or bowl

The way it works: Pass out little slips of paper and pens, asking your staff to write three things about themselves, one fact per paper slip. Once they’re done, ask them to fold them up and deposit their facts in a bag or bowl. Take turns reaching into the bag to pull out a fact and everyone has to guess whom the fact matches. It’s a fun icebreaker that can be used in the beginning of future staff meetings. 


Trust and Teamwork Activities

Best for a staff that knows each other well and is ready to work on team dynamics


Egg Drop

What you need: eggs, random household materials, cardboard boxes, duct tape, straws, etc. 

The way it works: Just like in Physics class, divide your staff into teams of 3-5 people. Explain that each team has about 20 minutes to construct a way to protect their egg for when it gets dropped. Award points for creativity, team dynamics and success of egg drop. You can also debrief after the activity, having a conversation about what led to success and what did not. You can also try to make connections with the work they will do throughout the school year. 


Draw a Picture

What you need: pen, paper, simple drawings, trust

The way it works: Divide your staff into teams of three. Each team will decide who will draw, who will view the original, and who will speak. Give each team a simple drawing. The goal is to have the drawer make an exact replica (or as close as possible) without ever viewing the original. The viewer cannot speak but must find a way to describe the drawing to the speaker. The speaker translates the message to the drawer. At the end, have the entire staff vote for which drawing is closest to the original. 


Obstacle Course (similar to Draw a Picture)

What you need: blindfolds, large open space, objects that can be used as obstacles, trust

The way it works: Divide the staff into teams of three. Each team will decide who will be blindfolded, who will view the course, and who will communicate with the blindfolded team member. The viewer and the communicator stand face to face with the viewer facing the course. The viewer cannot speak, the communicator projects commands to the person blindfolded and the first team to get their person across the course wins. Be sure to have at least one person not playing to monitor the course for safety issues. 


Deserted Island

What you need: team players

The way it works: Ask each person to decide what one thing they would bring with them if they were stranded on a deserted island. Divide the staff into teams of three or four. The teams must work together to figure out how to survive and escape the island with the items they had individually decided to bring. Share out or debrief what each team came up with, acknowledging the most creative ideas and/or the most likely to work. 

A lot of these team-building exercises require a high level of trust between staff members. But trust doesn’t just happen, you have to work to build it. Start off with high expectations of respect for everyone in your school as well as holding everyone accountable (yourself included) to collaborate, connect and include everyone. 



(via School Leaders Now)

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