Program Spotlight: TagTeam

  1. Updates

What is TagTeam?

Playworks TagTeam is an evidence-informed service that was piloted as a national partnership between Playworks and the Boys and Girls Club of America in 2019 and launched in select local markets with school based clubs. This service expands Playworks’ capacity to provide high quality impact across the state by growing the number of trained professionals capable of facilitating Playworks programming.

Playworks is now expanding TagTeam by partnering with other youth serving organizations. We train the staff at these organizations to facilitate components of Playworks flagship evidence-based program, Playworks Coach, including: 

  • Recess: Afterschool staff at the youth serving organization (coaches) facilitate every recess, every day of the school year, creating safe spaces (physically, socially, and emotionally) and establishing basic, inclusive behavior rules and conflict resolution strategies (such as rock paper scissors) as norms in and after school. Coaches are trained to specifically seek out children who may spend time on the sidelines because of exclusive behaviors, physical limitations, bullying, or other factors that discourage them from participation. Coaches make sure that these children feel included, supported, and have the opportunity to interact in healthy play with other students.
  • Junior Coach: The coach and teachers identify older students (typically in grades 4-6) to participate in a leadership development and peer mentorship program whereby older students help younger kids connect with their peers respectfully through play. These Junior Coaches serve as leaders on the playground during recess and throughout the school day. The Junior Coach program has been shown to improve students’ social and emotional learning, self-esteem, communication skills, and motivation to do well in school. Junior Coaches lead the recesses of their younger peers once a week, modeling positive behavior, resolving conflict, and leading games. Junior Coaches from all Playworks schools in Indiana are invited, once a year, for a statewide Junior Coach Leadership Retreat.

Why choose TagTeam?

Through TagTeam, Playworks is able to build alignment between a school and their out of school time provider by creating systems for student engagement utilizing the same language, frameworks, and approach for in and out of school time. This benefits students in that they do not have to “code-switch” between expectations during school activities and after school activities.

The program builds capacity for the afterschool partner providing an opportunity to elevate part time afterschool staff to full-time serving during and after-school. The school gains a high quality recess, peer leadership, and play program for all children facilitated by a caring consistent adult. The children gain invaluable skills, have the opportunity to practice those skills, and are able to thrive in a more positive and supportive school climate.

Playworks implements, teaches, and then ultimately hands over our strategies, practices, and curriculum so that the program can be maintained with minimal support from Playworks. 

Playworks TagTeam is a great service option for rural communities or those far from a metropolitan area, because a school, youth based organization and Playworks partner over multiple years to ensure that safe and healthy play is sustained.


What is the impact of TagTeam?

Playworks Indiana piloted the TagTeam service during the 2020-2021 school year, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis and Liberty Park Elementary School in Metropolitan District of Warren Township in Marion County. The program was so successful in its initial year that two additional Warren Townships schools were added for the 2021-2022 school year. But don’t just take our word for it, hear stories from our TagTeam partners and coaches! 

“Playworks has made me more prepared to do my job. Junior Coaches also help a lot. There’s so many more people supporting recess and being more mindful of what we’re doing during that time. Playworks has also helped me keep everything fun. Instead of yelling at student to listen, I now have tools like attention getters and other communication tools to ensure everyone has a good time.”- Kelsey Neylon , Senior Youth Development Professional, BGCI at Sunny Heights

The partnership between Boys and Girls Club, Pleasant Run, and Playworks is valuable for our students and school because it allows for ‘more hands on deck.’  It is nice to see more adults that are invested and know our students (know their names) throughout the day!”- Carisa Kimmon, 1st grade teacher, Pleasant Run

“I think the biggest impact I have seen for the club that came from recess is my relationship with the students. I’m able to spend more time around them getting to know them and they get to know me. I’m also able to talk to their teachers and see how they are with their classmates.” -Heather Blakenbaker, Senior Youth Development Professional, BGCI at Sunny Heights

“This is my sixth year here at Sunny Heights and when I first came here, on paper we were the most challenging of the nine elementaries in Warren Township. Our focus for the first few years was developing a positive and supportive learning culture before we could attack the achievement gap for our students. Since partnering with Playworks, we have seen a reduction in discipline issues and an increase in attendance. We’re seeing students utilize problem solving skills, especially with conflict resolution. We use Ro Sham Bo (rock paper scissors) throughout the building throughout the day, not just at recess, and you see teachers using it in classrooms. Even I use it in the cafeteria during first grade lunch duty when they’re upset about who’s in line or things like that. Our challenges will never go away but having different tools and having ways that we can make it shape and fit our school has been great and Playworks has been a perfect fit with very flexible and malleable programming to fit our needs. 

With the Playworks TagTeam service in partnership with our Boys and Girls Club (BGC), we’ve seen an increase in the number of students and families we can support with after-school care, which is I think oftentimes an overlooked support for families that people don’t understand how big an impact that can make. It allows many of our parents to continue working into the evening, which they need to to help support their families, and gives them (students) a safe place to be. 

Our BGC has become more active and more engaging for students through this partnership and the training BGC staff have received from Playworks. In the past, there were times where the BGC looked like students just sitting in the cafeteria doing homework, eating a snack, and then they might go to the gym for the last 30 minutes and basically run around. Now, we’ve got a little bit more structure and more opportunities for play that’s fun and engaging for students. What’s been so positive for us at Sunny Heights is the continuity between in school and out of school time and kids not having to code switch to a new set of expectations or language.” Bart Lewis, Principal, Sunny Heights


How does my organization get involved?

Playworks Indiana is currently seeking partnerships with out-of-school organizations across the state. If you would like to discuss how TagTeam could benefit your school and/or organization, please reach out to Partnership Director Audrey Hallmann at

audrey.hallmann@playworks.org.

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