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Art of the Steal
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 06/05/2017

Checkmate a

The following is an installment in "Icebreakers 101: The College Edition", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

Interpersonal dynamics can pose an interesting set of circumstances for any instructor. As in life, when someone is new to the workplace, the addition or subtraction of one team member can set in motion ripples that change the game.

This exercise is created with the college class in mind. The instructor will divide the class into two or three teams and use these teams for icebreakers and classroom exercises over the entire semester. This is a great way to view the development of interactions between students under competitive circumstances.

When established teams are comfortable and working well together, shake things up. Initiate a few changes in the lineup with a steal.

In the Art of the Steal, there are three options:
  1. Instructor based modifications - The instructor assesses the teams and moves one player each to another team.
    1. This can be done to intentionally create a dream team or to promote what looks like an unfair advantage. The lesson in this could be that nothing is fair in the world.
    2. Conversely, the instructor can try to even out the teams based on perceived abilities.
    3. Captain based modifications - Each team captain has to take one player from one other team. Captains are exempted from the steal. Captains must stay with their team, in all of its manifestations, through the entire semester.
    4. Democracy in action – All of the members of a team decide/debate which member of another team will be selected. This may be the most confusing option. However, this may provide more observations about team dynamics than the Instructor and Captain based option.
    In all options:
    • One player is stolen from another team.
    • This is done one team at a time.
    • Each team shall take one player from another team. This is mandatory. If a team says “Pass” the request will not be honored.
    • If there are three or more teams, the instructor will tell the stealing team from which other team they may steal. This is done to keep teams at or about the same number.
    • A player who was sent to another team cannot be taken back by the team form which the player came.
    Ultimately, it is up to the instructor to select which option will be used. The fun of it is to watch how teams accept the changes imposed on them. There will be interesting dynamics.

    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” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence". 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

    Other articles by Bouchard:


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