4 Great Results From Competitive Teams in Middle School


Find out the 4 Things that Made Competitive Teams Worth It In Middle School

There are many ways to run a classroom and in general, positive reinforcement systems work well for me.  I have written before about my ticket system that I have used for many years with great success.

But this year was... different.  Now that we are on the other side of the pandemic, students are... different.  It was time to change some things because I found that students didn't understand things like how to work with others, how to be unselfish, what it meant to be dependable, and so on.

Enter "Teams and Themes" from Jon Davis of The Courageous Classroom.  Mr. Davis does a phenomenal job of explaining a very well-thought-out system based on his experience as a Marine.  There are many tenets from that program that I use and some that I needed to simplify and adapt for my students.  

The basic premise is that students work in teams and each member of the team has a job - including team leaders - and they work to be the winning team of the month.  Winning teams receive coupon books that help them "hack the class".  Teams are awarded points for meeting our classroom agreements and for demonstrating the "Traits of Excellence".  They can also lose points when they do not demonstrate these things and can be required to complete reflections.

I have to say, the results have been rather amazing!

Competitive Teams Results:

1.  Teams Instill Leadership

The students who became team leaders genuinely took it upon themselves to be role models for their teams.  Not only did they remind their teammates to stay focused or to complete their planners, but they also intervened when other team members tried to get their team off track!   I think students genuinely like it when they are trusted to do important things.

2.  Teams provided a vehicle to teach important social skills

Students were struggling with learning how to work together and being dependable.  Teams allowed me to directly teach these skills and add them to our list of Traits of Excellence.

Students now know the expectations for working together to answer questions and that part of their success is about each person doing their part. 

So far our Traits of Excellence are:

1.  Unselfishness
2.  Dependability
3.  Integrity
4.  Judgment
5.  Endurance
6.  Knowledge

Students earn points for displaying these traits.  When they complete their planner, that gets them points for Dependability.  When they answer a question correctly, that gets their team points for Knowledge.

During Open House, parents were very impressed with the system and told me that their students were very invested in it at home too.  Apparently, the students talk about the teams and what they've been learning about the Traits of Excellence.  That just tells me that this is the way to go!

3.  Teams provide for some natural consequences

Students need to know when they have crossed the line.  Team Leaders provide the first warning, but when a student doesn't respond to their peer, then I step in and the team will lose points.  It's a natural consequence of not working with their team and/or their team leader.  This sets clear boundaries and sends an important message: We stand by the Traits of Excellence and expect everyone to live up to them.

Once a team member has been warned by the team leader, has lost points for the team, and yet still does not make a change, then it is time for a behavior reflection.   

I have used behavior reflections since the beginning of my career and they have had very positive results.  What I have done is create compositions that explain the infraction, why the infraction is troublesome, and then how the student can improve their behavior for the future.  

4.  Teams created more engagement

Once students realized that after a warning from their team leader, they would actually lose points for their team and that their team was not happy about it, students began to stop the extra talking and playing once a warning was issued. 

That in turn meant that students were more focused on our lessons and on gaining more knowledge so they could earn their teams even more points!

Also, once a new month began and students had earned coupon books, the competition ratcheted up because now teams could be even more strategic with how points were handled.  This is because the 4 team leaders from the winning team of the last month were each given a coupon to add points, take away points, remove a loss, and so on.  This created a whole new dimension!

And as an added bonus - my teams are fully invested in keeping their areas clean and picked up.  I hardly ever find paper or pencils on the floor anymore! 


So there you have it!  Teams are working wonders for me and my students!  The students are truly gaining life lessons as well as academic ones and are staying focused and on target.

Thanks for stopping by!

Pin This Post for Later:

Don’t spend hours searching for that great idea you found.  Just pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly and easily come back when you are ready.  You’ll be glad you did!

Get your Middle School Students On Track with Competitive Teams!