<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1441829102512164&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Breaking the Ice: How to Create an Comfortable Training Experience

02 Aug 2016 by Mary-Margaret Gardiner

Ice breakers- ugh. That’s what goes through my mind when I hear that term. But, as a trainer I know the importance of setting the stage for the training, and beginning to build a group of learners into a community of learners. One of the most enjoyable part of training CLASS observers is to see the group contribute to discussions, ask questions and support each other’s learning.

For me, the point of the icebreaker is to create an atmosphere where learners feel comfortable to contribute, and build a common sense of purpose. So, I’ve found to a way to do this that works for me.

In order to gain insight into the people I will be training and start to build the group dynamics. I ask them to tell the group who they are, what their job is, and to share something they really enjoy seeing in a classroom and something that they find challenging to see in a classroom.

What usually happens is that many of the participants share the similar ideas about what a “good” or “bad” classroom may look like (they may say “I agree with what everyone said”) and this is a first step into building a sense of community to the comments. I call this bias. We all have bias, it’s human nature, but with the CLASS, there is no room for bias! Having insight into their educators’ hearts helps me scaffold their thinking to consider only the key interactions that we use to assess classrooms.

From their answers I can often anticipate how their bias might impact their understanding of the measure. For instance, someone who likes to see teachers on the floor playing with children, may struggle with “Songs and Cereal” or “Letters and Book Review” because the lack of relationships in these videos may create a “horns” effect and cause them to look for evidence to confirm their feelings. The challenges are often interesting as well, they might say that seeing a cluttered room is challenging. This tells me that their lens may need some adjustment to consider interactions, not room design. Emotional reactions are a great place to help participants disconnect their feelings from the behaviors they see in our videos.

As they share, I jot down their answers, making note of their job or experience, so that I can share any relevant experiences in my career path, which also builds connection. When someone struggles with a “feeling” I can check in, remind him or her of this exercise to help him or her gain perspective and shift his or her focus to behavioral evidence.

What icebreakers have worked for you during training?

Introducing the CLASS Learning Community