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You're Treading on Thin Ice, Buddy!
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 10/09/2017

Bouchard_ice 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.

Can the wrong answer chip away at a facility’s defenses? If you do the wrong thing based on erroneous information, can it hurt you and your institution later? The answers to these questions are “Yes, they could.” And you never know which innocent mistake in the culmination of many can topple the structure.

It is almost like the classic game of “Don’t Break the Ice” in which players take turns in knocking our plastic blocks one at a time from a horizontal frame. The blocks are wedged in tightly. However, with each block that is knocked out in turn, the structure gets weaker. Eventually, the removal of one block will force the others to fall.

This is a fun learning exercise that uses a quiz format and a classic game. This is a good game run after lunch. It is a way to review what was learned in the morning and to get participants to get up and move around in the post meal lethargy.
  1. Acquire the game “Don’t break the ice.”
  2. Learn the rules if you do not know them already.
  3. Create a list of thirty or so questions related to corrections, preferable something that was covered earlier in the day.
  4. Go around the room and ask the first person a question. If the participant answers this correctly, go on to the nest person with a new question.
  5. If the person gets a question wrong, she or he has to knock out one of the blocks of ‘ice’ on “Don’t break the ice.”
  6. The structure generally will not fall apart with the first few blocks knocked out.
  7. If you are familiar with the group, you might instigate some playful banter in order to make the icebreaker nervous.
  8. The person who is unlucky enough to have the ice break loses.
  9. Explain that this is a cumulative loss. Everyone is really responsible. It is just the person with the ultimate wrong answer that shattered the stability.
  10. Segue into a module on teamwork or staff dynamics.
Mistakes are cumulative and training helps to avoid mistakes. With an icebreaker that literally breaks the ice, this is an achievable goal.

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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