Being a “team player” does not seem to carry the prestige or importance as being “the star.”  I am reminded today that our attention is almost always focused upon the star rather than the team as a whole.  Tiger Woods just made a tremendous comeback today at the Masters Golf championship.  The crowds applauded him loudly as he triumphed once again after his unfortunate mishandling of his marriage seemed to halt his success.

    This evening I attended our church observance of The Lord’s Supper (communion), with noted emphasis upon the events of the coming week which climax with the celebration of Easter.  As I looked around the church building, I saw that we were missing about 75% of the members.  Have we lost out as a team of Jesus’ followers?  Even Jesus had one disciple who turned out to not be a team player.

    Many people are alarmed by what the social media shows as a reflection of our society.  It does not appear that sportsmanship and team loyalty and effort are as important as they once were.  Many of our athletes are in a “dog eat dog” race for fame and fortune.  For me, this has removed some of the joy of watching sporting events.

    Children in school display the behaviors of their family members.  We learn a lot about the inner workings of families by just observing the children on the playground at recess. It is also apparent to us in the classroom which children see themselves as team members who are working toward a common goal, and which children do not.  

    It has been my experience that children can be taught to be “team players.”  By assigning roles for each child working in a group…then rotating those roles, children learn how to be a valuable part of a team.  More work can be accomplished in a shorter period of time when a team works well together.  I’ve shown this rule to my students in countless ways, such as working together to clean, oil, salt, and wrap over a hundred baked potatoes for lunch.  

    Another proof of the efficiency of being a team player is the two to three minutes it takes my students and me to pick up clutter and trash in the classroom after a cutting and pasting project.  The same task takes the teacher alone about twenty minutes to accomplish.  I am always ready to reward them for their cooperation since I want the lesson to stick.  Usually, they are quite proud of the way in which they worked together.

    Some students aren’t team players because they have never mastered some of the necessary skills for an activity.  To remedy that situation, I have students who volunteer their time and instruction to help those students during playground and recess times.  The student mentor is most proud when the goal of attaining the needed skill(s) is reached and the student can then be comfortable in the role of being a “team player.”  This is much more rewarding than continuing to give the child poor grades up until the skills are mastered.  The student mentors usually gain new friends in the process!      

-          Kay