Back to School #BreakoutEDU

One of my go to sites for all things building culture and celebrating staff is the Facebook Group “Staff Appreciation and Motivation” created by Amber Teamann and Melinda Miller. With over 2,500 members, it is an awesome resource where administrators share creative ways they are appreciating their staff and providing motivation across the building all year long.

This past week a principal asked the following question,

“Has anyone created an escape room or something similar for team building? And willing to share? Thank you!”

Upon seeing this, I commented back regarding a #breakoutedu experience we had at the beginning of last year and quickly folks wanted to hear more. It was then I realized I need to share our experience more formally, so others could benefit from the experience. After all, isn’t that was being in a PLN is all about?

Last year we had a large number of staff that were new to the building. I knew we had to get our newest members of #SiglerNation familiar with the community they were now serving. There is no better way to get familiar with a community than spending time in the community and putting boots on the ground.

With the help of my brilliant Assistant Principal, Carrie Tracy, we started to identify the landmarks in the community we wanted our new staff members to be aware of. These landmarks included the apartments our students lived in, the Boys & Girls Club our students attended after school, parks and the famous Texas Pool that is in our neighborhood. Once we identified the landmarks, we hopped in the car and drove to the sites to determine what clues we would want to use.

Here is What We Created

Clue #1 – Sigler Elementary

We randomly divided the group into teams and their first task was to show the other members of their team where in the building their classroom was. As the toured each other’s classrooms myself and Carrie were in one of the locations with a key and padlock. Attached to the padlock was a USB drive in which the following video was stored.

Each team was also provided with this neighborhood map, indicating our attendance boundaries with arrows to help navigate the route and numbers 1-7 to assist in identifying the landmarks in which they would need to visit.

(the red arrows were the key to unlocking the directional lock)

With the video providing the background and the map providing the way, the following clues were each placed in separate envelopes which the staff were given after unlocking the padlock holding the USB.

Clue #2 – The Texas Pool  (This clue unlocked the 4 digit lock – the address)

Clue #3 – The Bridges

Clue #4 – The Bel-Air Oaks (This clue unlocked the 3 digit lock – the sum of the building #s on each of the laundry areas)

Clue #5 – Boys & Girls Club in the Douglass Community 

Clue #6 – Bel-Air on  16th 

Clue #7 – Hackberry Park

If you are familiar with the #BreakoutEDU kits, you know there are four locks they need to unlock:

3 digit lock

4 digit lock

multi-directional lock

multi-letter lock

If you look at the clues and answers above, we provided the teachers with three of the four. The fourth and final clue was right in front of their eyes, they just could not see it. After we printed the clues, we used the invisible pen (visible with the black light flashlight) and spelled out the character traits we follow at Sigler Elementary.







We underlined some key letters in the words and if staff payed attention, they discovered the underlined letters spelled STARS, which happens to me our mascot and the answer to the multi-letter lock.

Our goal for the day was two fold.

1. Spend time learning the SiglerNation community.

2. Get to know the staff members you will be working with this year.

The activity exceeded our expectations and ended with both teams working together as they completed their visit and ended up back in the library with their clues and answers. Each team needed one last clue and between the two teams, they each had the answers the other needed.

Of course, we had to tweet the action!

Teamwork makes the dream work!