Young woman with dark curly hair smiles as she talks with another woman who is facing her. Other people talk with other in the background.

Bonding Braid Activity: Fostering Staff Relationships That Students Prosper From

They know there’s a place to go for that support. That’s key in building your culture and climate: that everybody is accessible and people want to be [supportive].

– Angela Stevens-Stevenson


ACTIVITY

  • Arrange chairs into a fishbowl circle: one inner circle of chairs facing out toward another outer circle of chairs facing in
    • same number of chairs for each circle creates pairs/partners
  • Provide each person with three pieces of string or yarn (use your school colors to nurture the team-building culture)
  • The partner in the inner circle is the first storyteller and holds together the pieces of string/yarn
  • The partner in the outer circle is the first braider/listener and will braid the pieces of string/yarn as they listen to the storyteller partner (they should be directed to braid constantly, but slowly)
  • Provide the group with a thought-provoking personal storytelling prompt (or prompt options) to guide the stories being told
    • EXAMPLES: Who helped you to make a decision to become an educator? What are your greatest goals or aspirations as an educator?
  • The inner circle partner holds together the pieces of string/yarn as they tell their prompt-guided story while the outer circle partner braids the string/yarn as they actively listen to their partner’s story
  • You can either have partners automatically switch roles (but not seats) when they are done, or you can take some whole-group reflection time between rounds, but all partners switch roles (not seats) as the storyteller and braider/listener
    • Continue the team-building after both partners have had a chance to both share and reflect together by having the outer circle members move one seat clockwise, so the activity can be repeated with new partners (change the story prompts to keep the bonding experiences fresh and authentic rather than rote/rehearsed)
    • If there isn’t time to repeat the activity in one session, you can return to it (just keep track of the seating arrangements)
  • Lead a discussion about what support and being supportive specifically look and feel like, and emphasize that this is the purpose of this activity – partners should be able to reach out to each other for support
    • Your providing them with this bonding opportunity is a form of support

Related Articles

Resources We Love (And Hope You Will Too!)

During our May Counterpart meetings, we asked folks to share what they have been engaging with recently. Below is a list of all the resources shared by our incredible community, offering a taste of the diverse and inspiring content they’re currently exploring. This list has something for everyone: from thought-provoking articles to captivating podcasts to must-watch documentaries. So, take a peek, pick your poison, and get ready to dive into something fantastic!

Passion. Pride. Promise. Two Leaders Help Pave the Way for Their Students & Communities

Tucked away in the hills of rural western Oregon, the Vernonia and Gaston school districts defy many of the stereotypes most of us hold when we think of rural schools. Their communities face both common and unique challenges. Vernonia Elementary Principal, Michelle Eagleson, and Gaston Superintendent, Summer Catino, share how their small schools and communities achieve greatness.

Case Study: Merced Union High School District

Through its work with Inflexion, MUHSD is seeing strong results in student outcomes and in closing the opportunity gap for underserved students. California School Dashboard data show College/Career Indicator scores for African American, Hispanic, English Learners, students with disabilities, students who are homeless, and students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged are 16 to 29 points higher than the state average.

Teacher Burnout: Addressing Educator Exhaustion

Educator (and support staff) exhaustion is nothing new, though it has arguably accelerated exponentially over the past few years with no signs of slowing. In order for teachers/staff to best support and care for their students, they need to feel supported and cared for.

During a Crowdsource Coffee on November 9, 2022, Portico leaders, coaches, and facilitators shared their experiences and discussed new ideas for how we can better address educator exhaustion and work toward preventing this issue in the first place.

Responses