Wednesday (12/7/2016), the Media Specialist at one of my high schools, Nan Lanford, and I put on a BreakoutEDU experience for the staff during all four planning blocks. We each heard about BreakoutEDU earlier this semester, and we have been excited about the possibilities of bringing this experience to the teachers and (ultimately) the students. BreakoutEDU is a learning game based upon the recent escape rooms wherein participants are locked in a room and must solve multiple puzzles in order to break out within a certain time frame. The primary focus in these games is building teamwork and collaboration.
For our staff experience, we utilized Dr. Johnson’s Lab: Zombie Apocalypse. This was largely due to the fact that we are both HUGE fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead. In the week before the experience, we created a graphic in Canva to “hype” the experience and had student aides post these in faculty bathrooms. Nan also sent out multiple staff emails and secured various “red herring” items to include in the setup of the game.
The morning of the experience, Nan and I sat in the Media Center anxiously waiting to see if anyone showed up. At one point, I looked at Nan and said, “We are just going to have to trust God that people will show up.” My main concern at that point was that Nan had put SO much work and heart into this experience, and I was terrified that we would be alone. Everyone needs validation, and I really wanted Nan to receive hers. She is a truly inspiring Media Specialist and an overall amazing person; I am blessed to work with her on a regular basis.
Five minutes into first block, we had one teacher. Soon, two more showed up. Nan read the introduction story and explained a few rules, and we began. All three teachers seemed a little hesitant initially. This hesitation quickly disappeared, and when another teacher passed through the Media Center, all three teachers pulled her in to participate. When the teachers solved the puzzle, they were excited. One teacher scheduled BreakoutEDU experiences for her classes for next week. As we checked email in between planning blocks, we found an email from one of the participants recommending that the staff give themselves the “gift of participation” in BreakoutEDU!
Seconod block, we had over ten people including three administrators. This group FLEW through the puzzles! By the time second block concluded, students who had come into the Media Center to utilize computers had spread word, and we were hearing from students and teachers that BreakoutEDU was AMAZING! During third block, the paraprofessional in the Media Center overheard one student complain to another that “the teachers [were] too loud today.” #ThingsYouNeverThoughtYoudHearInAHighSchool.
Overall, this was an absolutely amazing time. It has been my experience that high school teachers can be somewhat clique-ish. As a former high school teacher, I can honestly say that I spent most of my time with teachers in my own department. BUT Wednesday, teachers and administrators from multiple areas were engaged and communicating and collaborating with each other. My hope is that as we move forward with BreakoutEDU, we will continue to build community – within classes AND across the faculty.
Happy teaching with tech, my friends!