There are many benefits of using teamwork in the classroom, the least of which being better behavior management. The buddy system builds relationships, increases accountability, and fosters solidarity. In an ideal setting, teamwork strengthens leaders and boosts self-esteem. The benefits of teamwork building can be achieved with pairs of students or with groups.
Because almost everyone has to deal with the dynamics of group situations at some point in life, successfully sowing the seeds of teamwork in the classroom will help ensure students develop much needed, crucial life skills to help them throughout their academic careers, as well as into the adult years when they enter the working world.
The most immediate benefit of using teamwork in the classroom is improved student behavior and cooperation. One “bad apple” can definitely spoil the bunch, but when students inspire each other in positive ways, whether it’s not breaking class rules or working hard to achieve academic success, everyone wins. This includes teamwork between teacher and individual students.
There are a variety of activities that teachers can use to help build teamwork in the classroom. Two excellent resources for doing so are the books 101 Life Skills Games for Children, by Bernie Badegruber, and 104 Activities that build: Self-Esteem, Teamwork, Communication, Anger Management, Self-Discovery, Coping Skills, by Alanna Jones. The former is geared toward younger children and the latter is for older groups, but some activities can be adapted for use with other ages.
The problem solving component to the teamwork activities in these books enables students to find creative solutions to complete their task and bond while doing so. Paired students who don’t get along well may suddenly see each other in a new light after working together on a team building activity and may even become friends. Students who are natural leaders can help those who are shy or lacking in confidence, and the end result will be gratifying to both when they succeed together.
Ultimately, students who initially present challenges in class via their behavior may surprise teachers as well as themselves as a result of participating in team building activities. These are likely to be inspired to participate more in class, their verbal communication will start to change for the better, and those were regularly involved in conflicts will have learned alternative means for resolving issues.
Perhaps the best benefit to using teamwork in the classroom is the insight it gives the teacher into who the student is.