Education Evolutions // Impact Insights

Team building and soft skill development promote student success

After-school programming focuses on team building and soft skill development to drive academic achievement.

As the new semester at Cardozo Education Campus begins, a new opportunity for growth emerges. The high school is brimming with excitement, hope, and a drive to succeed. In the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program, we decided to ride the wave of the new semester’s energy toward our goals. To direct students’ passions towards academic success, we began our semester with activities that required team building and soft skill development.

Teambuilding activities to develop soft skills

Teambuilding activities act not only as a method to develop soft skills, but to engage more students as well. One of the most common pieces of feedback we found from our student survey was that students wanted more hands-on activities. To incorporate student voice, we set out to develop such activities that would simultaneously lead to academic success. Teambuilding activities require that students collaborate on hands-on projects to meet common objectives. We observed that when challenged to work with a team, students were compelled to employ soft skills such as communication, flexibility, and problem-solving.

In the activity Marshmallow Tower, students are tasked with building the tallest tower out of a limited set of resources. All structures must stand without support from a wall and must hold a marshmallow on top freely. We divided students into teams of 2-3 participants and gave them 18 minutes to complete their towers. One might think that the secret to winning this competition is engineering prowess, but students quickly learned that the most effective tool is communication. Leadership, collaboration, and delegation were all critical to student groups’ tower completion.

Communication is key

All teams created impressive structures. However, the team that came out on top was freshman Issaik and sophomore Wisdom with a 19.5 cm tower. When asked about what led to their success, the pair answered that they were able to communicate effectively and remain focused on the objective. Wisdom additionally pointed out that while the third-place team spent time at the beginning arguing about who got to hold the marshmallow, he and Issaik were already building. This feedback allowed the other teams to reflect on their communication habits and how this affects their academic progress.

Our routine discussion at the end of programming led students to realize that while hard skills are important, soft skills like communication, relationship-building, and remaining objective lead to success. Skills that lead students to make positive connections and maintain focus will surely lead to academic success this semester and beyond.

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