Now that the students have been hired or placed into the company it is time to get them to work. The classroom will be transforming from the traditional school environment where everyone is doing the same thing at the same time to an office where the students will be doing 30-50 different things each week depending on the department they are working in. In this work-to-learn experience, each team member will be focusing on completing tasks assigned to their departments, developing projects, reports and essential company tasks to build their company from the ground up. Almost everyone is trying to survive in a new team and learning environment. For new teachers this can be a chaotic time if they are not prepared for the craziness of the start-up of the student business simulation. It is important to start the year off with a consistency so that your student develop a rhythm and routine to the class so they are not waiting for you to tell them to get going but they come in and get right to work.
Over the years I have developed a series of department tasks (you can download an editable copy) that my students would be assigned the first couples weeks to get them going. There are broken down by departments where each department has the same possible points they can earn. I go over how they are to turn in work and earn points for their departments as every in the department get the same team points for the task period. These tasks set the standard and expectation for work in the class for the year and help build momentum that hopefully will be carried through the Fall and into the Spring. I pay particular attention to ensure students do not become disconnected to the group and are given enough work to feel that they a contributing, as everyones contributions to the foundation of building the company is essential to building the cohesive bonds to carry the group through the year.
AVIOD BEING A "HELICOPTER" TEACHER
I strongly believe students should take ownership for their learning once they are placed into their positions in the company. As a teacher I have always prescribed to the "Guide of the Side" style as opposed to the traditional classroom style of "Sage on the Stage" where the teacher leads everyone through what needs to be done. The "Guide of the Side" style entails giving them enough information to get them going but not enough to give them a scripted recipe they follow to get all the answers to complete their tasks. This forces them to explore and search for answers, learn to use their resources and is really where the work-to-learn model really starts gaining some traction. I avoid hovering over the students like a "helicopter teacher" holding their hands through the tasks. On a typical day, I would move around to departments checking to see their progress, answering clarifying questions, making suggestions by asking questions that requirement them to think if they seem stuck. I am constantly monitoring the students, making sure, as the students work, they and not going down the wrong road and have complete missed what the task is asking. If so I guide them back to the are on track to complete the tasks as expected.
COMMUNICATION AND LEADERSHIP MEETINGS
This class will be a completely different experience for your students and nothing like the other classes they are taking in the traditional school setting. There will be no textbooks, no real formal tests or quizzes and student will be actively moving around the class engaged similar to a bee hive. Therefore, communication is essential at the beginning of the year to set the tone of the office environment and creating consistent time for communication to occur with in departments, the leadership team and with your chief officers. I usually start the day, by doing some general announcements, highlight deadlines and remind department leaders to check in with their teams progress. At the beginning of the year I meet with the chief officers weekly and go over areas of confusion and concern about employees, answering questions, and touching base on how they are doing individually and working together as the leaders of the company. At these meetings I let them know what deadlines are coming up and what is just ahead over the horizon in the over-arching journey their company will be on. I also mentor them on how to put together a meeting agenda, how to run a meeting, review Roberts Rules of Order and attend (and sometimes lead for my weaker companies) the first few meeting of the year. With the leadership team, I start the year off by leading them through a process of helping them establish meeting norms for the the leadership meetings. I would have each leader complete this inventory (MyNorms) before the meeting and bring the completed document to the meeting. Then as a leader team I lead them through each category (Time, Listening, Confidentiality, Decision Making, Participation and Expectations having them share their ideas and discussing the norms for each of those areas. The finalized norms are record on a blank MyNorms document and copies given to the leadership team. It would probably be a good Idea to have them on the back of every meeting agenda so they are easy and convenient to find.