Does being locked in a room for a specified time during which you must escape using teamwork, puzzle solving and communication sound intriguing? Have you ever visited an escape room or heard of these physical adventure games? If your answer is yes, then keep reading because you may want to learn how this popular game can benefit your school!
OPSRC’s communications team, Sarah Julian and Jenna Vasquez, recently visited Erick High School in Erick, OK, to witness how their assistant principal took the escape room idea and made it her own.
The Brains Behind an Escape Classroom Game
Tori Little holds many titles for Erick High School. Little is not only their school’s assistant principal, but she also teaches geometry, 8th grade math, U.S. history and is the technology/curriculum director. After she and her staff participated in an escape room out of Tulsa, OK, she saw how beneficial the game was in helping strengthen her staff’s communication skills and teamwork.
Little returned back to Erick High School to brainstorm the idea of creating an escape classroom for her students’ benefit. The escape classroom for the students was a success, and she knew it was time to create an escape classroom centering around staff team building and student engagement as part of their staff professional development day.
Approximately 15-20 teachers would attend Erick High School’s professional development day. Prior to the event, Little spent time creating the theme for the game her teachers would play. She decided on “De-Zombify Your Students.” Little created several puzzles that groups of teachers would need to solve that would provide them combination numbers to unlock locks. These would then lead to the ultimate combination: the number to unlock the classroom door to escape!
Teachers were divided into three groups. Each group was assigned to a separate classroom, but they would all play the same game. Groups were given 60 minutes to successfully escape. Each room had a facilitator who was in charge of keeping time. Students dressed as zombies volunteered to be in the rooms, and they provided unexpected challenges to make the game more difficult as time progressed.
At first glance, each classroom seemed normal. But upon further examination, teachers found certain books to be out of place and several puzzles were placed on walls and desks. The facilitator let the group know their time had started, and quickly the group began huddling around a puzzle. Soon though, several teachers realized that to escape the classroom before the clock ran out, they needed to divide and conquer. A few teachers tackled one puzzle while one or two worked on another.
The Infection Cards
Meanwhile, the zombie students silently and suspiciously walked around the room. After the first 15 minutes passed, one zombie handed a Ziploc bag to a teacher that contained an “infection card” and a stopwatch. The cards’ purpose was to restrict a player’s time and ability from helping the team escape.
Three bags were handed out. The first “infection” told the player to walk around the room once every five minutes yelling, “I am sorry I forgot to take my medicine!” The second told the player to insert earplugs to prevent further communication with his/her team.The third card instructed the player to put on a blindfold and earplugs and sit down for a five minute nap (of course, the teacher loved this required task).
The Overall Lesson
Little’s staff learned how to effectively communicate in a high-stress situation. Each team’s overall goal was the same: escape the classroom room before time ran out. But there were several tasks to accomplish before they could reach that goal.
Teachers had a variety of curveballs thrown throughout the game. Just as in life, they had to decide if they were going to let the unfair situation bring down the rest of the team or if they would persist in hopes of reaching that end goal. Trust was tested when teachers had to rely on one another and when someone would take the lead in solving puzzles. Some needed encouragement in the face of frustration, and others with that strength stepped up and emboldened them to continue.
It is interesting to think of the similarities between a 60-minute escape classroom game and the experiences teachers will go through during a school year. Little wanted the game to mirror what they face in reality and in doing so, emphasize the importance of teamwork in reaching goals.
You maybe wondering if Little’s staff made it out of the classrooms in time. We don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but instead dare you and your staff to test out an escape classroom game yourself! Does your team have what it takes to make it out of the classroom in 60 minutes?