Tips for Trainers

The Courageous Leader book

Facilitator Tip: The Courageous Leader book
 
Many of your know that I have a second company outside of Training Wheels called Personify Leadership.  Personify Leadership is a two-day leadership development program based on 8 core competencies of effective leadership.  I am pleased to announce that my business partner, Angela Sebaly, has just written a new book called The Courageous Leader, How To Face Any Challenge and Lead Your Team to Success.  I could not be more proud of her!  Here is a little information about the book:
 
The Courageous Leader is about being Courageous in the face of tough times. Courage is defined as "what moves us to action in the face of tough times." Tough times are defined as "situations and people that cause us some level of discomfort or pain." So the question for every leader who wants to personify the Spine of a Leader is: "Are you willing to move to action in the face of discomfort or pain?" It's not that courageous leaders derive pleasure from pain, but rather, that they are willing to accept pain as part of the process. Traditionally, courage has been viewed as something reserved for the elite and well trained. Leaders falsely believe they are required to be the "Navy Seals" of the workplace to be considered courageous but in reality, courage is accessible to everyone. Courage is required not just with the grandiose problems but in the simple every day challenges that we all have the capacity to tap into. The Courageous Leader provides a different lens for how to see and leverage courage in day to day application by using stories of every day leaders.
 
Angela Sebaly shares a few insights from her new book, The Courageous Leader
Angela Sebaly shares a few insights from her new book, The Courageous Leader
Please join me in supporting Angela by Purchasing your copy today!


Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  

Pairing and Sharing

Facilitator Tip: Pairing and Sharing
 
Have you ever asked your group a question and in return received blank stares and awkward silences?  If this seems to be happening a lot, consider warming your group up to sharing with the simple technique of Pairing and Sharing.  With this technique, the facilitator first asks participants to find a partner. Once everyone has a partner the facilitator instructs the group to discuss a question together.  It could be an icebreaker question or a debriefing question.  It could be a question on subject review matter or a leadership question.  Regardless of the type of question you ask, the act of pairing up with another person and having them share a response is a great way to get them talking.  
 
The technique of Pair and Share works well because the participants get a chance to practice their answer before sharing with the large group. Many participants do not like being put on the spot when asked question in front of their peers. Pair and Share also allows for each participant to answer each question, rather than one person talking while the rest of the group listens. Everyone gets a chance to answer each question that is asked.
 
I often follow up a Pair and Share exchange with a request from 2-3 people to share a modified response of what they shared with their partner.  This creates a large group experience, and allows the group to practice sharing in front of their peers.  This also takes care of those 'rebel pairs' that might have been talking about something other than what you wanted them to be discussing.  
 
Give the Pair and Share Technique a try!
 
Our 'Your Turn At the Wheel' Series of Cards are great tools to use for the Pair and Share Technique.  They are on sale below!
Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  

Metaphoric Methods in Processing

Facilitator Tip: Metaphoric Methods in Processing
 
Yesterday I lead a webinar in conjunction with AEE on Effective Processing Tools and Techniques.  It was well attended and received great feedback from attendees!  Once I have the recording available, I will share it out in next week's newsletter.  In the webinar I shared 10 different techniques for processing that enable facilitators to break out of the traditional sharing circle and mix up their debriefing methods.  Debriefing activities can be just as dynamic and engaging as group initiatives- especially with a new frame of mind from facilitators and participants, that reflection is not that ‘boring thing‘ that comes at the end of the activity. It is not. It is that thing that creates the value and wonder in learning; it is the way ideas come together as a lasting lesson. 
 
Using a variety of techniques also give more ownership of the debriefing process to the participants themselves.  In the traditional sharing circle the facilitator is responsible for leading the group through the standard What, So What, Now What sequence of questions--which is a very effective method and I use it with 100% of the groups I facilitate.  However, I mix up my debriefing sessions with multiple other techniques.  This keeps the energy around debriefing alive and not that 'boring thing' we have to do after the fun stuff.
 
One of my favorite methods is Metaphoric processing, and my favorite tool to use is Metaphor Cards.  
 
Metaphor Cards are reflective tools that use metaphors or symbols to represent participant‘s reactions to an experience. These cards are useful as introductory activities, for processing a specific experience, for closure, or even as tools to help participants resolve conflict.
 
This engaging tool uses pictorial images, metaphors or symbols to represent a participant's or group's reactions to an experience. Providing a tangible image upon which participants can attach their thoughts helps give these ideas substance and shape in quite profound depth. Metaphor Cards are useful as introductory activities, for processing a specific experience, for closure, or even as a tool to help participants resolve conflict. Metaphor Card Activities are appealing to participants, can be used in many different ways, and are appropriate for all age groups. Groups seem to go more in depth about their ideas and feelings when they attach their thoughts to a symbol or picture. Because participants share about a card rather than directly about themselves they are often more willing to share. Often more reserved members are drawn to expressing themselves through the use of these symbols. 

 

Using objects, as symbolic representations of an experience, or personal attribute can be a very effective approach to processing. These activities engage participants in creating or choosing symbols representing a group success or individual strength or accomplishment. The strength of these types of activities is that they are not threatening to participants and facilitators, and leave the opportunities for creative and meaningful interpretation of an experience wide open. Participants can attach their thoughts to a tangible object that they can touch and show to a group during group discussion or take away with them to represent their experience. This helps thoughts and ideas reach depth and character in a way that doesn‘t happen with dialogue alone. Because the participants can talk about the object or image rather than about themselves directly they sometimes express thoughts that otherwise would be left unsaid (A Teachable Moment, Cain, Cummings and Stanchfield 2004). Objects and images can be used to liven up the traditional sharing circle by providing interactive, kinesthetic ways to engage participants in group dialogue.

Directions for Metaphor Cards/Chiji Cards:

  • As an introductory activity participants can choose the card that best represents a strength they bring to the group, or a goal they have for the day, course or program.
  • As a pre brief in the early parts of a program spread the cards out before the group and have them pick a card that best represents where they are at that moment. At the very beginning of the day/program, spread the cards out before the group and have them pick a card that best represents where they are at that moment. Ask them how they are feeling and to pick a card that matches where they are mentally coming into the day. Go around the group and ask each participant to share why they picked the card they did and why that card represents them or where they are. If you start the day with this activity, it is good to end the day with this same activity.
  • Spread the cards out before the group and have them pick a card that best represents an experience or a feeling that they had during the activity or at the end of the day. You can do this at the end of the day or after an activity. Go around the group and ask each participant to share why they picked the card they did and why that card represents them or an experience they have had. Participants can each pick their own card, then draw it or write about in their journal.

 

Webinar on Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques

Facilitator Tip: Two Announcements!
 
Webinar on Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques

I'm excited to announce a joint effort with the Association for Experiential Education.  Join me tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7th, for my first webinar with the Association for Experiential Education on Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques!
 
When: Tuesday, March 7 at 3:00pm ET (2:00pm CT, 1:00pm MT, 12:00pm PT)
Cost: $19.95 AEE Members / $29.95 Non-Members - Register now!
Presenter: Michelle Cummings, M.S.
Length of Webinar: 1 hour
CEUs / CECs Available
Webinar Description:
Are you good at the games but not so good at the debrief?  Do you ask questions and get blank stares from your participants? Do you picture a debrief as a 'sit down' circle where the Facilitator asks questions and the participants answer?  Although this can be an effective debriefing technique, if it is the only technique used, participants can become bored with it and can become easily distracted. This 60-minute webinar will focus on 10 effective debriefing tools and techniques that are simple and easy to use. We will break each technique down and demonstrate different games or activities teaching the concept.  These techniques for processing are sure to liven up your debriefing circles.  
 
I hope you will join me!
Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  

Two Announcements!

Facilitator Tip: Two Announcements!
 
I have two announcements to share today!  

Sneak Peak!

First, I've received multiple requests for a 'Sneak Peak View' into the new Online Games Database.  I created a quick video that shows you all of the features of database, so watch this quick video!

Training Wheels Online Games Database Sneak Peak!
Training Wheels Online Games Database

I've created a Sneak Peak membership for $19.99!  This will give you 30 day access to the database.  Once your 30 days is up, you will be required to upgrade to the $29.99 membership fee or cancel your membership.  Give it a try and see what you think!  Click here for more info.


Webinar on Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques

Second, I'm excited to announce a joint effort with the Association for Experiential Education.  Join me next Tuesday, March 7th for my first webinar with the Association for Experiential Education on Effective Debriefing Tools and Techniques!
 
When: Tuesday, March 7 at 3:00pm ET (2:00pm CT, 1:00pm MT, 12:00pm PT)
Cost: $19.95 AEE Members / $29.95 Non-Members - Register now!
Presenter: Michelle Cummings, M.S.
Length of Webinar: 1 hour
CEUs / CECs Available
Webinar Description:
Are you good at the games but not so good at the debrief?  Do you ask questions and get blank stares from your participants? Do you picture a debrief as a 'sit down' circle where the Facilitator asks questions and the participants answer?  Although this can be an effective debriefing technique, if it is the only technique used, participants can become bored with it and can become easily distracted. This 60-minute webinar will focus on 10 effective debriefing tools and techniques that are simple and easy to use. We will break each technique down and demonstrate different games or activities teaching the concept.  These techniques for processing are sure to liven up your debriefing circles.  
 
I hope you will join me!
Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  

What - So What - Now What?

Facilitator Tip: What - So What - Now What?
 
Processing helps learners make connections between their educational experiences and real life, as well as future learning. It helps them recognize their skills and strengths by naming them. By recognizing and naming the skills and strengths used in an experience, they become more cognizant of their inner resources that can be used in future life situations. The practice of reflection itself is one of the most useful human skills in that it develops insight, one of the hardest and most important tools to teach and learn. Experiential activities followed by processing help people develop insight skills. Processing helps create purpose, meaning, and focus of an activity and helps learners take advantage of teachable moments.
 
Experiential Learning Cycle
(based on the work of David Kolb and others)
 
As individuals participate in an experiential activity, they should ask themselves these questions: What? So What? Now What? The reflection process begins with a defining and sharing of the "What" of the participants's experience, and follows a continuous cycle towards "So What?" and "Now What?"
  • What? Report the facts and events of an experience, objectively.
  • So What? Analyze the experience.
  • Now What? Consider the future impact of the experience on you and others.
One of the most basic models of our work, the Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb, et al), proposes that after an Experience comes Reflection, followed by Analysis of the experience, which leads to Application of the new information learned. The complete cycle is required for learning to take place. Unfortunately, some trainers and facilitators interrupt the model after the activity segment, and then are surprised when their participants fail to retain the information presented.
 
There are several processing tools on the market that help facilitators build this skill.  The Chiji Processing Dice activity was one of the first tools on the market that taught this skill.  The Debriefing Thumball and Debriefing Wheelies are two tools I designed to help facilitators ask debriefing questions in a proper sequence.  This sequence makes sense to participants and can also shift some of the responsibility for successful processing from the facilitator to the participants. The sequence of What - So What - Now What not only takes participants through a progression for processing a specific event, but also allows participants to own the process without the aid of the facilitator.
 
What are some of your favorite tools that promote the What - So What - Now What process?
Enjoy!
Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  

Change Debrief

Facilitator Tip: Change Debrief
 
Last week my post about the Human Continuum activity was one of our most popular newsletters in a long time!  (Click here if you missed it.)  I thought I would build off of that momentum and talk about another activity I use in tandem with it from time to time:  Change Debrief

One of the topics/cards I frequently use in the Human Continuum activity is 'I Embrace Change or I Resist Change.'  With this topic, I find that how you react or feel about change is likely something you are wired with from a very early age.  If I look at my two boys (ages 13 & 15), my youngest strongly prefers structure and routine, and if there is a change in his routine it can stress him out.  My oldest is very go-with-the-flow and rolls with whatever gets thrown at him.  They've always been like this, even from the time they were very little.  It doesn't mean that my youngest can't adapt to change, it just means it takes extra effort and energy for him to do it.  

Translate this to the real world, and adults and change are very similar.  Many years ago I found a story online about how different things react or change when placed in hot boiling water.  At the time I read the story, I was working with an organization that was going through some pretty significant changes.  I decided to use the metaphors of the story and relate it to how members of the organization were reacting to the change.  It was a remarkable conversation, and everyone left the program feeling better after getting to express how they were feeling during the change.  

Enjoy!
Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  

Pocket Processor - Human Continuum

I have a client in the Denver area that I visit once a quarter.  I’ve been working with them for close to 15 years now.  The first time this client called us, they were looking to fix a relationship problem between two employees on their team.  It was pretty fractured, and when I did my initial Needs Assessment with them I could tell it would not be difficult to surface the behaviors through an experiential activity that needed to be addressed. 

One of my favorite activities that surfaces behavior preferences and differences is called the Human Continuum.  I use a deck of cards called the Pocket Processor.  This round deck of cards uses the Ying Yang metaphor and has two different behavior preferences written on each card.  For example, one of the cards in the picture has these two behaviors printed on it:  Enjoying Chaos / Enjoying Order.  I use these cards as my question prompters to allow people to reflect on what their preferred behavior preferences are.  Here is how I set up the activity:

I put a line down the center of the room with a rope (or an imaginary one!) and ask everyone to stand on or near the center line.  I then explain that the rope is going to represent the center of the Ying and Yang.  Then I’m going to read off the two behaviors on the pre-selected cards (designate which side of the room is for one behavior and which side of the room is for the other), and then ask the group to ‘Vote with their Feet’ and place themselves on which side of the line best describes their behavior preference.  Further explain that the further away from the center they move, the more rooted they are in that behavior preference.  Five feet off the line would mean I slightly prefer that behavior, 10 feet would mean a little bit more, and 15 feet would mean I strongly prefer this behavior.  Have a quick discussion around how neither side of the line is right or wrong, they are just different, and that each behavior comes with its strengths and its limitations.  (Pre-select cards that reflect the behaviors the client wants to address in the program).

Once participants have moved to their location of choice, I then have them look around and see where their closest co-workers have placed themselves.  This is where the magic usually happens, and where the proverbial light bulbs start to go off.  I usually state, “For those people that are standing near you, you probably just said to yourself, ‘I knew you were cool for some reason!’ or ‘These are my people...’ And for those on the extreme other side of the line from you, you might have just said, ‘’I knew she bugged me for some reason.’ or ‘No wonder that guy drives me nuts!’ 

I usually start out with some ‘lighter’ behaviors like:

  • I’m a self-motivated person / I’m more motivated by others
  • I enjoy Order / I enjoy Chaos
  • I’m a Careful Planner / I’m more Spontaneous

I usually do 4-5 lighter behaviors, then move onto a few ‘deeper’ behaviors:

  • I embrace change / I resist change
  • I express my frustrations when I have them / I keep my frustrations to myself.
  • I avoid conflict / I confront conflict

On some of the deeper topics, I also give them an opportunity to move to a location where they wish they were on the continuum.  Then, once they have moved I say, “However many little steps you just took to get to this new spot, how many little steps would it take in the real world to make it happen?”  Then it becomes a goal setting activity as well.

In the instance of my Denver client, this was the activity that surfaced the extreme behavior differences between the two individuals that were clashing with one another.  She was an extreme Careful Planner, and he was an extreme Spontaneity guy.  She felt de-valued whenever he wanted to quickly move on an idea before she had had a chance to really put her thoughts or action items in place.  He felt like she always slowed down the process and could never make decisions quick enough for him.  Once they were able to ‘see’ how extreme opposite their behavior preferences were, she piped up and said, “Now that I see it like this, I can appreciate the fact that you are just wired this way, and that you are not doing it to de-value me or to make me mad.”  It was a real breakthrough for them.

I have 2-3 other activities I use with this deck of cards.  They are a personal favorite of mine and I don’t leave home without them!  What are some of your favorite don’t-leave-home-without-them tools?  Purchase your deck here.

52 Card Pick Up

Facilitator Tip: 52 Card Pick Up
 
Recently someone asked me what my current favorite Icebreaker activity is.  I have so many 'favorites' that it is hard to pick just one!  One of my favorite icebreakers that has some 'meat' to it has to be 52 Card Pick Up.  Now, this is not the same game your older sibling played with you when you were a kid.  You know the one, where your older brother says, "Hey Michelle, you wanna play a game?"  (and being the game-lovin type you enthusiastically say, 'YES!', and then he throws the cards in your face and says...  '52 card pick up'...)  (Not an awesome game.)  The re-designed version of 52 Card Pick Up is designed to surface behaviors that the group experiences on a regular basis in a fun way. Stack the Deck Cards
 
Before I get into the why it's my favorite, here's the basic rules for the game:
 
52 Card Pick Up  (This game included in our Stack the Deck Cards)
 
You need a deck of playing cards with specific 'jobs' written on them.  Preferably the jobs are written or printed on the back side of the playing card, not the side with the number and suit.  We created a specialized deck of cards called Stack the Deck Cards that include this game.  You need one deck of cards for every 10 players.  Place all 52 cards with the playing card side face up on the floor or table top.  You will need lots of space for participants to move around and perform various tasks. Here's how I set the game up:
 
"The next game we are going to pay is called 52 Card Pick Up.  (wait for the groan...)  How many of you remember this game as a kid?  Not such a fun game, right?  Well I'm happy to report that the rules have changed for that age-old game.  Here are the new rules for 52 Card Pick Up.  You can see that there is a full deck of cards scattered about here on the floor.  On the other side of these cards there is a 'job' that you have to do.  In a minute when we start the game, each person will come forward and pick up a card and read the job on the back side of the card that needs to be completed.  Whatever is written on that card is for your eyes only. You cannot show your card to other participants, and you may not tell others what your job is.  Some of the jobs can be done all by yourself.  Other jobs may need assistance from others on your team, however you can't tell anyone what you are doing.  As soon as you have finished your job to the best of your ability within the confines of this room, you may pick up another card and move onto the next job.  The game is over when your team has picked up and completed all 52 jobs in the deck.  Now, because I'm a big believer in Challenge By Choice, if you pick up a job and it pushes you a little too far outside of your comfort zone, you may put that job back down.  But recognize that someone on your team will have to complete that job because the name of the game is 52 Card Pick Up, not 51 Card Pick Up.  Are there any questions?  (pause) Let's begin!"
 
Once you begin the game and participants start performing their first few jobs, immediate chaos and insanity ensue.  Here are a few examples of the jobs written on the cards:
  1.  Make a really loud noise until someone tells you to stop.
  2.  Stand really close to someone until they tell you to go away.
  3.  Shake for 60 seconds.
  4.  Lightly punch 5 people in the arm and grunt when you do it.
  5.  Tell 5 people what you think about what they are doing. 
  6.  Do 15.3 Jumping Jacks.
  7.  Get everyone to sit on the floor and be quiet for 1 minute.
  8.  Do a log roll, but don't be obvious.
So you can see, if 8 different people are doing these 8 different jobs all at the same time, it will be chaotic (not to mention pretty darn funny!), and there are 52 different jobs like this!  Some of the jobs themselves will definitely conflict with one another, which makes for conflicting needs of our participants.  For example, if you have the card 'Make a loud noise until someone tells you to stop.' And one of your teammates has the card 'Get everyone to sit on the floor and be quiet for 1 minute.', there is a conflict of interest.  Some participants find themselves having to put their own job on hold in order to help another team member out. (can you relate?)  Or let's say you were so busy 'standing really close to someone until they tell you to go away' that you didn't even notice the person 'shaking for 60 seconds.'  Were you so busy doing your job that you completely missed the other things that were going on?  What if this person was having an epileptic seizure only 5 feet away from you and you were too busy to notice?
 
The reason why this activity is one of my favorites, is that you can pick and choose the behaviors you want to debrief after the activity is over.  As soon as a group is finished, I ask them to sit on the floor (or in chairs) and ask them to go around the circle and tell the group what some of the 'covert' operations were that they had to do during the game.  These are silly in nature, but there are many debriefing points you can relate to real life.  Many participants will be surprised at all of the things that happened that they did not even see! 
 
From a debriefing point of view, the process of letting them share what their jobs were takes care of the first phase of debriefing, the 'What Happened' phase.  (See a recent newsletter article on What, So What, Now What.)  Once the group has had a chance to giggle and review what some of their jobs were, that's when I step in and start asking questions about 'Why this is important.  and, How does this relate back to the real world?'  Depending on the specific outcomes and needs of the group, this is where I talk about specific behaviors that came up in the different jobs they performed, and how they relate to this specific group. 
  • How is this activity like everyday life? 
  • How are the behaviors demonstrated in this activity like interacting in a group setting? 
  • Each behavior demonstrated in this activity could relate to a behavior in the real world.  Which ones do you think pop up in your day to day? 
  • How many of you were surprised to hear some of the jobs that were done?  Why do you think you missed them?
  • Do you ever have to put your own needs on hold in order to help out another person?  Give an example.
In this game, there were a lot of quirky behaviors that came up.  As humans, we all have our little quirks.  We don't always get to choose who we have on our teams or who is in our group.  Effective teams figure out how to work with the quirk!  They also address behaviors that come up that might negatively effect the group. 
 
After I have finished with a few initial questions, I then let the group do a small group debrief.  Now that they have new information to process, and realize that this is so much more than a silly icebreaker game, it's good to give them a little time to process how this relates back to the real world.  After about 5 minutes of small group process, I then open it back up and ask them to explain different ways they see this relating back to the real world. 
 
So you can see why it's one of my favorites!  There is so much good meat to this activity, which also happens to be really fun to participate in as well.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it!
 
Enjoy!
Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  

NCCPS - The Facilitator's UnConference

Facilitator Tip:  NCCPS - The Facilitator's UnConference
 
Once a year there is a fabulous gathering of facilitators.  I attend or present at over 15 conferences annually, and this one continues to be one of my favorites.  If you've never been to NCCPS, I'd like you to consider attending next month.  I have been to 16 of these, and it does not disappoint.  I always learn something new.  
NCCPS Logo
NCCPS
March 2-4, 2017
Boulder, Colorado 
     
NCCPS, the Facilitator's UnConference is a 3-day gathering of facilitators, educators, trainers, consultants, and mental health professionals who come together to exchange their ideas, expertise and passion for experiential education.
  
UnConference? 
At a traditional conference, a committee sets the agenda 6 to 9 months in advance.  NCCPS is powered by a magical meeting technology called "Open Space".   
 
"Open Space" creates the structure and guides the process.  YOU create the content "in the moment" based on your needs and the expertise you choose to share.  YOU become part of a dynamic community of learning and sharing.  Trust the process...it really works! 
  
For complete UnConference info, click here .
 
It's a Good Kind of Tired!
We have a saying...."you can sleep when you get home".  For 3 days, from sunrise to moonlight, we are learning, teaching, networking, sharing, creating, listening, reflecting, connecting, playing, laughing, drumming, dancing and singing.  We learn best by experience. 
 
EARLY Birds save $$ when you register by 2/20/17!   

p.s.  NCCPS is where I presented for the first time to my peers and colleagues.  Now I make my living doing it full time.  Find yourself in Boulder next month.  You will not regret it.  
 
View clips from a previous unConference!
View clips from a previous unConference!
Enjoy!
Have fun out there, 
Michelle Cummings
Michelle        
Michelle Cummings
Owner/Trainer/Big Wheel
Training Wheels  
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