On one hand it's another way for me to document my thoughts. On the other hand, I'm thinking, maybe those of you who train team building facilitators could use this format as a training exercise. First share the What? (Not revealing the Why? right away.) Have a discussion on the What? with the trainees about "Why?" they think the activity is set up the way it is, and "What?" purposeful reasons they might have for leading this activity in this way. Then reveal the Why? from my (one professionals) particular perspective (as we know there's more than one way to peel an orange - I'm a vegetarian). Let's give it a try. (Buckle up, this one's a bit long - but, I hope, worth the ride.)
- Everyone is asked to make a name cards - "Only first names, nice big letters.". Supplies are on a table (I use 4 inch by 6 inch "unruled index cards and poster markers) off to the side. My name card, "CHRIS", is on the table with the supplies as an example of the expectations.
- As participants are finishing up their cards, I ask them to circle up in the nice open area we have for the program with their name card in hand.
- I welcome the group to the circle, and the program, and share my overview of what will be takling place - working together to tackle challenges in order to find out what we do well togther and what we might want to change about how we work together.
- I give the group my rendition of "challenge by choice" asking them to be a part of each task in some way - the bottom line being, to stay with the/your group and provide support and help during each task if they are willing.
- I tell my group, "as an example of what we'll be doing today, let's use the name cards you made. I'm calling this first activity the Name Card Return."
- I continue with, "Part of the activity will involve The Perfect Circle. We are already standing in the perfect circle - this is awesome. So look to your left and right - make sure you know the names of these two people. Whenever I call out 'Pefect Circle' please get into this circle standing next to the same two people to your left and right. Let's do some skill development - let's practice. Remember, the main rule is 'when I call out perfect circle' THEN you move into the circle."
- At this point I move to another location in the activity area and then call out, "Perfect Circle!" I don't say anything else. It often takes a few seconds for some of the participants to catch on and start moving and helping others get into the perfect circle.
- After this first practice I ask if there are any questions about forming the perfect cirlce. I also tell them at this point there is another rule to the perfect circle. "I will be the only person that can call a perfect circle - it could happen any time during the program."
- I then move to another place in the activity area and call out, "Perfect Circle!" After we've circled up again, I ask how everyone is doing. Do they have any questions about getting into our perfect circle?
- I move to a new location one more time and call, "Perfect Circle!" After this third time I congratulate their good work and tell them we are ready to learn one more thing before we play Name Card Return.
- "During this next skill development part" I tell the group, "is to learn the Blind Shuffle". I continue. "Hold your name card in front of you with the written name on the card facing down towards the floor/ground. This is the 'blind' part of the shuffle - please keep your eyes open. Part of the challenge during Name Card Return is not to know the name on any card you have until we start the Return. When I say "shuffle" you can move around the area and exchange name cards with five different people - then stop moving around. You are allowed to exchange cards more than five times if someone is still working on his or her five exchanges, but you are required to stop moving around after you have exchanged cards with five people. Once everyone has stopped moving I will give you the direcitons to the Name Card Return. If you 'accidentally' look at the name on your card after you have stopped moving please exchange this card with someone near you so you don't know the name on the card you are holding. Are there any questions?"
- When everyone in the group has stopped moving I quickly check in with them. "Okay, before I tell you how to play Name Card Return, if you 'accidentally' saw the name on the card you are holding please exchange your card with someone near you. It's okay if you peeked, it happens. Go ahead and exchange cards now with someone if you need to."
- At this point I share the directions for Name Card Return. "This activity will be evaluated by time. During our program we might have some other activities evaluated by time, others might be evaluated by 'completion' - will you be able to complete the task in a certain amount of time. Other activities might be evaluated by a score - how many 'things' can you get in a certain amount of time. And, there are some activities that we might not need to evaluate at all - we'll just have some fun with them. So, here's how Name Card Return is played. When I say 'GO' I will start the time and you can then look at the name on the card you are holding. As some of you might have already suspected, the challenge is to get each card back to the person it belongs to. In addition to that, you then have to get into a perfect circle in relation to where I am standing - I'm not going to say the words, 'perfect circle' during the activity, simply take it in stride that it's part of the activity. When we all have our name cards back in our hands and we're in a perfect circle I will stop the time." After sharing the directions, I spend a little time answering questions before starting the first round.
- When the group is ready I say "GO". I do my best to get the card I have to the person it belongs to as quickly as I can and then I move to a place outside the clump of players exchanging cards. At some point my card is returned to me and then I wait until everyone is standing in our perfect circle. I then stop the time.
- Then I ask, "How did you do? Were you fast? Slow? Were you successful?" After some light discussion I let the group know that during the program I will be taking some time to open up space for us to talk about the experiences we're having. "These spaces might be before an activity, during an activity, or after. It will depend on what you need and what I think might be helpful to you at any time." I continue, "So, my responsibility to you is to provide you with activities that will challenge you and ask you questions about your experience to see what we're learning about each other and even about ourselves."
- Once the short discussions are over I share the time the group achieved for the first round. Then I ask, "What do you think? Is this the best time this group can record?" Usually they are ready to try again to improve their time.
- If they are up for another try, I'll say, "Are you ready for the blind shuffle to start round two?" If anyone says "NO" - I provide the time they need to talk. In most cases, in the beginning two rounds, most groups say they are "ready" to try again.
- I tell the group to "Blind Shuffle - exchange cards with five different people and then stop moving." I add, "Remember, it's okay to exchange cards with more than five people, just be sure to stop moving after you've exchanged with five different people.
- After all movement stops I ask if anyone "peeked" at the name they have - if so, "please exchange cards with someone near you."
- Then I say, "GO" and start the time. I quickly find the person named on my card and then move to a new place in the area. While watching everyone I look around for the person who is looking for me - I get my card back. When everyone has stopped moving I stop the time.
- I ask the same questions as before, "How did you do? Were you faster? Slower? Were you successful? I let these questions be answered for a while - not too long though. Then I share their second round time.
- After any comments from reacting to their time, I ask them if they have done their best with this activity. Some groups do decide they have done their best and they want to move on. Most groups believe they can do better (especially if their second time is slower then their first time).
- If they want to try again I tell them we have time for one more attempt. I then ask them to tell me when they are ready to begin their final round.
- When they are ready I ask them to "blind shuffle - stop moving after five exchanges." After movement stops I ask again, "If you accidentally peeked, please exchange cards with someone near you."
- When ready I say, "GO" - I return the card I have, move to another spot (unless otherwise instructed to do something different), accept my card from someone else and then stop the time when everyone is standing in the perfect circle.
- "So, how did you do? Was it faster? Slower? Were you successful?" I will spend a little more time with the discussion after this last round, maybe even asking some other questions specifically related to the group's program objectives.
- To close, I say to my group, "So, this was an example of the process we'll be going through. I'll present you with a challenge. It might be evaluated in some way, it might not be. You might have multiple tries at a challenge, you might only get one try. We also might have some brief discussions about what's going on. We might talk a little before a challenge begins, we might talk a little during the challenge, and we might talk a little after the challenge. The discussions are times for you to consider what we are learning about each other and ourselves as we work together. You will never be required to share during the discussion, you are always free to choose how you want to engage at these times."
- Finally, I tell and then ask the group, "Just so you know, during our time together, questions are free. So, before we move on do you have any questions for me at this time?
Quick Links: Here's Part 2 Here's Part 3
Please share any thoughts you have in the comments below - I'd love to hear from you.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D.