Welcome back for Part 2. Quick review. The purpose of What? & Why? is to tell you 'What' I do with a particular process (e.g., an activity), and then tell you 'Why' I do what I did. I view this documentation as a training tool, a thought motivator, a way to share intention - to share ways to program on purpose.
Be sure to read through (or even review) Part 1 of this Have You Ever posting, before you dive in here. Part 2 (and Part 3) might make more sense after you know "What?" I'm talking about Or, maybe it would be more informative to postpone Part 1 until after reading Part 2 (and Part 3). Who knows, finding out Why before we know What might be a better process for you. (And, be sure to let me know if you try this order - share What? you did and Why?, and how it turned out!!)
Another quick review. The numbered comments below match up with the Part 1 numbers. For each step of the What? I share my Why? behind it. Here in Part 2 I share the first 12 points of the Why. In Part 3 I'll cover the final 12.
1. I like to have participants help me whenever I can - it's a nice social skill to practice (and it saves me time as well). By clumping together, I am able to hand out five or six game spots to several participants near me so they can also help me hand out spots - or pass along the spots after taking one for themselves. Being together in a "clump" saves us steps and time in the long run. Another option is to set down the game spots into a circle formation before your participants arrive. In my experience, setting up a circle of spots by myself takes more time than getting help. Totally up to you.
2. When everyone has a game spot I collect the extras, then together we form our circle. Doing this together might become our first "problem solving" activity! I might give a visual image suggestion, like, "We want to form a circle, like a big pizza, or a basketball." Then, I'll ask my group, "Do you like the shape of this circle, or do we want to change it? What do we need to do to change it?" After asking these questions I listen for how participants are communicating with each other - is it positive, constructive, negative, sarcastic, useful? If some coaching is required I will add some thoughts while we're getting circlized. I also make sure to praise the useful behaviors and positive feedback participants are engaging in and sharing - I'm starting the norming process with the group. I too am working on forming the circle with my group, because I am also standing on a game spot as part of the circle (remember, this version of, "Have you ever..." does not start with someone in the middle of the circle).
For this game of "Have you ever..." (HYE), I think the circle formation works the best. I've tried HYE in a square, a triangle and scattered formations. The circle is best for hearing the HYE questions and a circle provides more space for moving from one space to another (again, in my experience). (BTW: Playing HYE, just as an ice breaker, is really interesting from a scattered formation, but it increases the level of risk. So, if you are norming for safety with your group scattered HYE might be an option.)
3. In this step, I'm frontloading the idea of choice. Even though we will be discovering things about each other - some similarities and differences - my main facilitated objective is to emphasize the concept of choice and how choice fits into the program we are in together. Some participants might recognize the game once I share the part about saying, "Have you ever..." When participants speak up, sharing they've played before, I often say, "That's great. In a moment you will be able to help me out since you have some experience with this one. For the moment you might notice some differences in the way I play, so please go along with me on this version and have some fun." I use the example of, "...eaten a slice of pepperoni pizza" because I'm pretty sure there are a few people in the group who have done so.
I'm choosing to use an example of something that more than a few people have done so I can get some movement when we try. Now, depending on where you are in the world, you might use a different example. If I use something too unique, like, "Have you ever swam with dolphins?" I might not get any movement during my test run - and I want movement for the example. (I do use the pepperoni slice example as the practice run.)
4. I come back to the idea of choice at this point. I present choice as an invitation - an invitation to move off of their spots or not if they have done the Have you ever...? I know I picked up the idea about choice as an invitation from someone in my past, but I don't remember who. So, thank you - whomever you are! I suppose being "invited" could be seen as someone with power opening the door for others with less power - and argument to explore at some point. For me, I like being invited. It shows me I'm being recognized, seen by others. "Chris, I'd like to invite you to my party!" Thanks! I'll be there." It's an opening, a way of thinking that can work for a lot of people. During discussion with more groups than I can remember, participants have told me that they liked the idea of being invited - they felt included and part of the group.
5. By now I want my participants to lock in the directions with practice. I use the example, "Have you ever eaten a slice of pepperoni pizza?" because they've already been thinking about it. It's not something new at this point - in educational thinking I'm (sort of) reviewing. Participants already thought about my question and they've probably answered it, in their heads at least. Now, we're moving (literally) to the next part of the learning process. We're adding something to what we know. We've also heard the directions, now we're putting them into action.
6. I choose to move with the pepperoni pizza eaters at this point, and I also keep an eye on the movement of others. Most participants will recognize that they don't have to move quickly because there is a spot for everyone (at this point). However, some energetic players (e.g., younger participants) might choose to move quickly, so I'm watching for safety issues.
Now, as the facilitator, you can choose to frontload the practice step by reminding participants they don't have to run - "there is a spot for everyone." If you think your groups needs this information, let um have it. By leaving out the safety frontload I get the chance to observe my groups participate in some natural behaviors. They might already have a good sense of how to behave safely - I might not need to bring it up (just yet). After we are all back on our spots I can ask the question about choices. (This is where we can talk about "safety" choices if they were observed.)
During this first bought of choice recognition, I don't push too much. I like to get in more action before digging deeper. So, here I just ask five or six times, "What choices did you have the opportunity to make?" I don't share any of my observations and choice options I know about at this time - I want to give my groups the first opportunities to share what they observed and practiced. However, there is one exception. If I observed any safety concerns we will open this discussion and create some norms (rules) for moving (literally) forward. I will often add, at this point, that one of my roles as a facilitator is to monitor safety issues and help the group develop norms and behaviors around safety concerns.
7. We need to move again. Asking my participants if they have participated in a team building program before is one of my favorite questions. It usually (these days) produces lots of movement and it lets me find out if there are those in the group who have not been in a team building program before - I observe this information in the next step. Again, I'm observing my groups for behaviors (e.g., safety) that may need to be addressed right away. In most cases, I stay on my spot so I can watch the movement.
If someone (and this happens quite a bit for me) brings up the fact that I didn't move and asks, "You haven't been in a team building program before? (they are ALWAYS watching us!) I share my choice to stay on my spot so I could observe the group in action (another role I have as a facilitator that I might share with my groups at this time). In educational terms, I can be modeling choice.
8. After this second practice, I add some new information and action. As a way to now recognize others we have something in common with. I ask participants to raise up a hand if they moved to a new spot. Now, we can look around the circle (again, the best formation to see everyone), to see who has been in a team building program before and who has not. We can also see that we have a difference among us - some have and some have not. (This is where I find out who is team building for the first time. Why is this important? I might change my language a bit or define more of the terms I use with my participants. This thinking is another topic we can get into at some point.)
And, I do like to invite participants to put their hands down when we're done looking around as to avoid any discomfort and confusion about when it's time (okay) to put hands down. ("Have you ever..." been in one of those situations where you weren't sure, then you just put your hand down because others were putting their hands down? Doing what others are doing because you don't know what to do....now that's something to talk about!)
9. Okay. We're now getting the idea, so I want to prepare my participants for a change coming up. I let them know that, after I ask one more "Have you ever..." question, I will be inviting them to ask the questions. In this way I'm giving participants a heads up, some time to think about something they might want to ask. Even though they'll be listening and possibly moving around, they will have some time to think. In educational terms this is called an anticipatory set - I'm setting up my group for something that is about to happen. Something they can anticipate.
The next new thing will not be new - they "knew" it was on the way. This prepares the brain for some action. Along with my next question there is a chance that I might be the only one that has done the "Have you ever..." (If you've played "Have you ever..." you know that if you ask a question it must be true for you. I have not shared this rule yet - but it's on the way.)
If I don't see anyone else making a move from a spot, I will take one step into the middle and take a bow. Then, step back onto my spot. (Again, another "rule" - invitation - I have yet to share, but it's on the way.) More often than not, since I'm taking a bow, participants will clap for me - it's a pretty common cultural norm. I didn't set up the bow-clap process yet, but if I have the opportunity to demonstrate it, I take it. Again, depending on the question I ask, there will be more, less or no movement at all.
10. If there was some movement I ask the movers to raise a hand. Then we all look around to see who we have something in common with. Again, this action is about providing an opportunity to recognize others. If I have a hand up I recognize that I have something in common with others who have their hand up. I also recognize there are others I might not have something in common with - there are differences in the group.
The participants that did not move, do not have a hand up, can also assume that they have something in common with others in the group - the non-movers. Now, since there is a chance that one or more of the non-movers could have moved but chose not to, I like to make a short point about assumptions. "We can assume we have something in common with others through observation, but how do we know for sure?" This will often produce comments about "talking" to each other, asking questions, and listening. This, more often than not, is part of a team building program - getting to know each other beyond observations and assumptions.
11. After movement stops I invite participants to ask a "Have you ever..." question. But, before they start I share the information (rules) about how play will continue - the questions have to be something they've done and if no one moves after a question, the asker is invited to step into the circle and take a bow, at which point we will all clap. I also like to add the option of simply waving as well - the stepping into the circle and bowing might not be comfortable for everyone. Again, I like to provide choices when possible and give permission to make choices they are comfortable with. The reason I let someone else ask a question after a bow or wave is to save time. In my experience, if I let the same person ask another question, they often have to take time to think of something new, whereas others in the group are ready to ask a question. A couple other thoughts.
Depending on my group, I might give the "Rated G" guideline here as well. "Please share 'Have you ever...' questions suitable for a G-rated movie audience." This will often produce some laughter because they know what your talking about. This is a choice I do take away. Another role I have as a facilitator is to help create an emotionally safe learning environment. If I let my group make choices that make others uncomfortable and unwilling to open up and connect with the group, the learning environment will be altered. This can be tricky, but important to consider. We (us facilitators), are challenged to provide learning experiences that help groups move forward together as a community, not hinder the process. "Guiding" the process with appropriate activities and purposeful language is our responsibility.
12. Okay. Here I ask for someone in the group to share a question and I remind them about the context of the question - it must be something they've done. Some groups I work with naturally raise up hands (it is a norm they've adopted) and I'll pick by pointing at them. In other groups, someone will simply speak up before someone else. Depending on your group, you might need to set up the guideline (rule) that you will pick someone who has a hand up - you might need to structure the sharing (you might want to establish this communication norm). This could be a norm that you want to manage or let the group manage. Will they set up the structure or do they want/need you to set it up?
A facilitated objective I have at this point is to move "control" of some of the process to the group - get them taking and interacting as soon as possible. (Note: By this time in the game, we are only about 4 minutes in! Yah, lots of words and thinking in 4 minutes!) And, even if I could move to a new spot on some of their questions, I usually stay on my spot and watch the interaction in the game. I'm looking for "things" to talk about - things I need to talk about (e.g., safety issues), and things I would like them to recognize (e.g., group behaviors) that I can bring up in a processing discussion. Purposeful observation leads me to more appropriate questions. (Another good blog topic to explore at some point.)
Lots to consider at this half-way point. What works for you? What would you change? What would you add? Leave me a Comment below.
See you next time, in Part 3, for the remaining Why?
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.
Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.
This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.