Using Icebreakers for Adult Learners
You may have completed your Level 3 Award in Education and Training with us and are now thinking about going into a classroom or beginning a workshop. That’s great! Let’s run a potential scenario by you first. You’ve prepped, you’ve got your lesson plan ready to go, and you’re excited. But you want your students to warm up to you and to try and eliminate a potentially awkward situation, silence. What can you think about doing? Icebreakers!
What is an icebreaker?
An icebreaker can be activities, games, and even questions. They are designed to welcome and warm up yourself and your learners. To make it easier for them to speak up and speak to each other. It is a helpful way of making people comfortable with each other. Icebreakers don’t have to be used in the classroom; they can be used in meetings, team building sessions, and training sessions as well.
Breaking the ice can be a bit cheesy, but it is very beneficial for your learners to know one another. They can also motivate your learners and become more common with answering your questions.
When it comes to adults, teaching them is very different from teaching children and teenagers. Consider your approach beforehand, as a silly game could come off as immature. What kind of icebreakers can you use? We’re going to discuss a few here.
Asking their expectations of the course or lesson is a good idea to start with. You could start with introductions, asking them individually about their expectations and also what they expect to learn from the course. Furthermore, you can challenge their thinking by asking them what they will do if their expectations are met. This also helps you to understand your learner’s expectations for the course, so you can take away information from it at the end. Hopefully, then make adjustments.
Speed greetings are similar to speed dating. This can act as a mixer, they will talk to the nearest person to them for 2 minutes. They can talk about anything at all, as long as it is something interesting. You would then make a signal when the 2 minutes is up and they would move on to another person and do the same again. However, you need to make sure that both participants are speaking equally. After everyone is introduced, have each person tell you what was the most interesting thing they heard.
You could think about offering up topic suggestions. Especially if they’re all strangers. Just so no one feels awkward if they don’t have anything to talk about.
This icebreaker works in a simple way. You ask each learner to find an object that they have on them, then ask them what’s special about it, or what they like about it. It can be as simple as a wallet, a necklace or a hat. Anything to get the conversation going. You could also ask them to think about an experience they had recently and why it was good for them.
This is an icebreaker that really wants them to open up and be able to talk. Give them a few moments to think about things and then ask them individually, maybe they have similar experiences that can open up a bigger discussion.
If you could do over?
This one may not be for everyone, but generally adult learners have some great life experiences. Ask your students for the roads they traveled in their lives and what would be one thing they might want to do differently in another life. You then could follow up and ask them what got them to this point in time, taking this course and being there. If you don’t want to be as invasive asking them what they would change, just ask them how they came to be doing this course. It could open an insight on why people would want to take the course or workshop you are teaching. It lets you get to know your students better.
Or you could ask them about where in the world they would like to go to. This brings a bit more of a lighthearted approach to a similar style of question. Where are they from, have they been anywhere? Where would they go if they had the money too.
Would You Rather
I think that we all know this game, but to take it to a more student lead approach, you can ask the learners to ask a few would you rather questions. You could demonstrate by going first to give them the idea of where you want this to go. Maybe ask things like would you rather 1. Eat at a restaurant every night or 2. never do the washing up again? Or A). Would you rather never be stuck in traffic again or B). never get another cold. You can let them get creative with it, within reason of course! But this is a great way for students to take the reigns and have fun with it.
You could think about getting some name tags for them, so you would let them write their name on it and an interesting fact that can start an open conversation between the learners. So, you should also have one, to demonstrate your willingness to participate . This is again another easy way to get people talking. It is possible for you to write about a silly fear you have, i.e., one which isn’t extremely serious, such as being afraid of stick insects.
In conclusion, just be yourself and be open. Being honest and friendly is the best solution when it comes to teaching. No one wants to approach someone who looks hard headed, and for example if you do look non approachable, change their minds with how you come across, how you convey emotions. Being friendly is easy, even if you’re nervous. We hope this blog has helped give you a few ideas on what icebreakers you can think about using. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us on 01205 805 155.