Available for all high school students, GRACE Teamship is supported by local Raleigh nonprofit District C. GRACE Upper Campus teachers Laura Jacobs and Amy Stevens attended the District C Coaches Institute where they worked through a problem cycle using the same methods students use in the classroom. This experience allows them to help students throughout the semester excel with problem-solving techniques.
The elective is extremely hands-on, where students solve real-life problems for businesses and organizations. Over the course of the year, students will brainstorm, create and execute four different solutions for businesses, aiming to complete a project every 4-6 weeks.
The class is not like a traditional elective course. Teachers first introduce different “tools” and techniques students can utilize to promote team-building, brainstorming and project execution techniques, but then take a step back—or several steps back—letting the students lead together. From that point on, the teachers serve in more of a mentorship role – facilitating conversations, if needed, and supervising.
High School Teacher, Laura Jacobs, launched the GRACE Teamship Elective this year with a team of eight students and commented on its unique education:
Amongst the tools students are given to help them assess the businesses are solo flight, take 5 and questioning.
Solo Flights are designed for students to brainstorm independently. This allows each student to have their own space to formulate ideas and the freedom to brainstorm without fear of idea rejection from peers. It also gives room for creativity—the space to generate and massage new thoughts without the injection of other ideas from classmates.
Take 5 is a tool used to ensure each student’s voice is heard. This process gives each person five minutes to explain what they’ve discovered, envisioned or produced during their own solo flight. Take 5 time is uninterrupted from other thoughts or ideas from the crowd. These moments allow students who traditionally don’t speak up to become more comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas without the fear of being overlooked or shot down. It builds confidence in students who traditionally remain in the background and teaches more outspoken students the value of holding back.
Questioning teaches students how to ask questions that get to the root of the problem – to dig beneath the surface. It also teaches students to listen and learn, not to listen to respond. Many times, when engaging in conversation, true listening takes a backseat. We listen but are preoccupied with forming questions in our minds as the other person is talking. Or, when we ask questions, we position them in a way where our bias shows, thus wanting the answer to align with our position. The questioning tool invites students to ask clarifying questions for facts, or ideas from others which helps in the ideation phase.
Through this process, students refine their interpersonal skills, communication skills and creative processes to think outside the box for problem-solving. The businesses we’ve partnered with, are also taking note of the student’s progress, as Carpe CEO, Kasper, remarks:
“These students were among the sharpest, most insightful, and most motivated people I've ever worked with, regardless of age. They pulled no punches in getting to the core of the moonshot 'how do we grow our market' problem I gave them, asking pointed questions about Carpe's brand that many consultants would be terrified to, and putting forth recommendations that they validated in extremely thoughtful ways. I was beyond impressed at every stage of the process – from their initial skepticism, through their intense research, to their ownership of the final suggestions. If these students didn't already have their next few years planned out at the top colleges in the country, I would be very eager to offer many of them a job – and I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to work with them again."
Who is this course for?
All high school students, from freshmen to seniors, can complete this course. Middle Social Studies Teacher, Amy Stevens, notes that this elective is not exclusively for students who wish to enter into business, although those who see business as a future choice should absolutely consider taking this course. This elective is beneficial for all students. From those who are natural-born leaders or entrepreneurs, to more reserved students – GRACE Teamship holds space for every skill set and personality.
How do students apply?
Unlike most elective courses, the GRACE Teamship Elective requires students to complete an application and, if necessary, be interviewed. Nominations from peers and teachers are ideal, but students may also submit an application without being nominated.
How are students graded?
This elective isn’t graded according to our typical structure revolving around homework and test scores. This course is graded by measuring growth—both for individuals and as a group—and how well students utilize the tools given to them to create solutions.
What are some companies students have worked with?
GRACE Christian is proud to offer resources for students to help increase their creativity, further develop leadership skills, and equip them with the tools necessary for life outside of school.
If you know of a student who would appreciate this course or is interested in applying to be a part of this year-long learning elective, applications are now open for the 2022-2023 school year. Contact Laura Jacobs [email protected] or Amy Stevens [email protected] for more information.