Choosing Good Classroom Icebreakers Or Team Building Activities
Feb 26, 2009 Lesson Planning 3999 Views
If you're a teacher, trainer, or group facilitator of some sort, you probably know the value of a good icebreaker game or activity. It serves many purposes and yields valuable benefits for the group. For example, it can engage your students and get them more motivated to participate; it can get them to open up; it can help them feel more comfortable; it can promote teamwork and unity; and it can help students get to know each other, especially the more reticent or quiet ones.
However, there are good icebreakers and there are bad ones. This article will help you pick a good icebreaker game or activity for teambuilding.
What to Look for in an Icebreaker Game or Activity
Look for exercises that help people open up about themselves, their values, opinions, thoughts, and deeper things (but not too deep!) that they otherwise would not share. This can encourage students to participate more in the long run.
Icebreakers or team building activities that promote inclusivity and participation by all are good games. Get everyone involved. Avoid games that eliminate or exclude people quickly. Also avoid culturally specific activities or games. Everyone should be able to enjoy and take part. Encourage collaboration and teamwork, as an atmosphere of unity can promote a positive learning environment. Depending on your class, you may want to avoid too much competition or activities that give some groups elevated status. Don't make people feel uncomfortable or too embarrased (e.g. "share your most embarassing story" may not be appropriate for people who barely know each other).
Consider what icebreaker activities can make good, lasting memories or can be leveraged as a springboard for future class discussions. Shared experiences can make for good reference points later.
A recommended icebreaker that works well (in terms of teamwork and building unity) is an activity called "Commonalities and Uniquities". Within groups, students identify commonalities they have with each other and also unique gifts and characteristics that they have. Students may realize that they have more in common than they first might have thought, which promotes unity. Identifying unique characteristics is also beneficial in that people can feel empowered to offer the whole group a unique perspective or skill.
Hopefully this guide helps you get a sense of some pitfalls to avoid when choosing icebreakers and activities to promote team unity. Good luck!