|Unexpected Suggestions before Your Eyes|
|By Joe Bouchard|
The following is an installment in "The Bouchard 101", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.
Serendipity, sweet serendipity! Sometimes the best training tactics are learned on the fly. We don’t always expect to find a new teaching tool while rendering a structured presentation.
Here is an example of a new training tactic that I discovered quite inadvertently. A few years ago, I was involved in a vision and values project for an entire agency. The Warden of the facility at which I worked asked me to present a two-hour class that highlighted the committee findings. I wrote the program, memorized the outline and presented it as a slide show.
At what I thought was the conclusion of the module, I allotted 10 minutes for questions and comments. The four core values that were presented (excellence, integrity, teamwork and inclusion) inspired many comments and suggestions. In fact, to capture the rich swell of participation, I needed to act fast.
With the LCD projector still connected to my computer, I called up a blank page. For all to see on the screen, I typed the title “Suggestions for the Vision & Values Action Committee.” Under that, I started a bullet point list.
Suggestions flowed magically when I told the participants that I was compiling this list to send to the central committee. I recorded all comments about the initiative– the complimentary and the not-so-complimentary. As I recorded each, I was able to ask each submitter to edit if I did not catch the idea quite as conceived. Before I saved the document, I asked if there were any other suggestions or edits.
There was a lull. Being a bit playful and seeing a comfortable audience, I typed in a new bullet point. “[A certain someone in the class room] will buy lunch for everyone after the presentation. Order whatever you want!!!” The good natured person in question took the ribbing in stride and even had another constructive suggestion. That led to more ideas from the class.
Making a list of suggestions is certainly nothing new. It has been done on chalk boards and flip charts for decades. However, if this is done in an email-able document on display for the entire class to view, there is more at stake for the participants. The document can eventually be sent to the intended parties and cc’d to all who participated in the compilation.
Postscript – I am aware that this is not an actual icebreaker. However, it is a tactic that can be used in conjunction with other exercises. I have used this method with great success at later dates in different presentations.
I learned that some groups can be inspired by the momentum of ideas that can be instantly reviewed by others present.
Also of note, the Vision & Values overview was scheduled for just under two hours with ten minutes for questions. But, the time ran over by a half hour. So the blank idea bank projected on the screen generated about forty additional moments of discussion and a long list of useful suggestions.
Ah, sweet serendipity!
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.
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