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What is the Bouchard 101?
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 11/10/2014

Icebreaker a The following is an introduction to a new series on Corrections.com: The Bouchard 101. Each installment will feature a new "Ice Breaker" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

Believe it or not, there is a universal topic. Everyone, no matter their background, age, or level of friendliness, can talk about the weather. Even so, some locales feature weather with minimal variation. Others have a tumultuous diversity.

In my home state of Michigan, weather is an exciting topic. As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather in Michigan, stick around for a few minutes. It will change.

What a difference a day makes. One day, the snow was melting with a vengeance. By mid-afternoon, a driveway went from ice to mud. Then, within a 24 hour period, 16 inches of wet and heavy snow fell.

Training is like weather in Michigan: What a difference a day makes. A corrections facilitator or professor in criminal justice may be faced with eager students one day. The next day may feature silent, immovable, bored ‘participants’. Also, change in one set of students can occasionally come at a quick, unpredictable pace.

When I consider the apathetic classroom, I think of a car stuck in the snow. One knows that it can eventually move, but it needs to be released from the snow. One has to apply the proper icebreakers before the car can get going. The same is true of the silent class.

Alas, we cannot change the weather. However, we can modify the classroom. One way that I like to stack the cards in my favor when I am in the role of instructor is by using icebreakers and classroom exercises. These can turn the dullest topics into chat-worthy endeavors. Icebreakers can move participants from apathy to involvement. From there, the instructor may have to harness new, exciting energy.

Those who know me are aware that I love writing and conducting icebreakers. I truly hope that you enjoy the Bouchard 101. May all of your training endeavors be pleasant and enlightening.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014”. The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

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