When approaching this assignment, I wanted to remain aware of the particular needs of my role. As it has been necessary to be selective about the areas that were to be focused upon in these very wide-ranging topics, I have chosen to research and write about those areas that are relevant and appropriate to the work that I am doing, in order to improve my practice. This has meant that some areas that I would like to have learnt more about have been sadly neglected. I do, however, take comfort from the fact that the skills I have learned pertaining to research around the subjects will come in useful for filling in the gaps in my knowledge as I continue to develop professionally.
I am only there for the day, so it is important that I leave my learners with the skills and confidence they need to go forward and apply study-skills for themselves.
In the end I decided to research the use of ice-breakers as this is hugely important in helping to get my workshops off to a flying start. These are the things that make the rest of the workshop flow and facilitate everything that comes later. Gravells and Simpson (2010, p.13) put it like this,
“Well-chosen icebreakers can ease learners through the discomfort of getting to know others, and the teacher, better. They can help to set a positive atmosphere for learner interaction and encourage interest...However, in some circumstances icebreakers need to be used with caution; some of your learners may be very nervous...”
Learners may be nervous about the class itself, or the prospect of icebreakers alone could put people off from coming back, which is the last thing we want. The aim is to use ice-breakers to “...create a safe learning environment that promotes tolerance, respect and co-operation...” (ibid. P14). It is only from a basis such as this that we can begin to negotiate with our learners; to set ground rules and to set learning goals. Ice-breakers are also a very useful way for us to begin to assess our learners’ skills, learning styles and potential barriers to learning without making that assessment formal and perhaps making learners even more nervous that they are being tested.
To start my research around this subject, I simply typed the words “Ice-breakers, teaching” into Google, which yielded 1,070,000 results. Websites such as;(www.adulted.about.com) and (www.teachertalk.com) are just two of the many sources available on the internet. I also have books in my own collection already which contain ice-breakers, which are included in the attached bibliography. There are many examples of different kinds of ice-breaker available. In fact, the choice can be overwhelming. It is a good idea as a teacher to build a repertoire of ice-breakers that we are confident about using with different groups and in different situations, so we always have something ‘up our sleeves’.
We talked about this in class and there was a very mixed response from the group about this subject. Some people found them to be a useful way of cutting through the natural reticence of people new to a situation so that we could quickly get used to each other and start working in a productive way. Others were cautious about being made to look ‘silly’ and were reluctant to join in. Still others found the very idea of ‘ice-breakers’ completely mortifying. Perhaps the most important thing to remember with Ice-breakers is that they must be very carefully chosen. The tricky thing here, of course, is that we as teachers, and this is particularly the case in my own work, tend to do ice-breakers the first time we meet a group. This makes it more difficult to gauge which particular ones to use with a...