When I was only seven, I committed my first crime. My parents had gone out to run errands, leaving my two older brothers in charge. Ensconced in front of the weekly football game on TV, they paid no attention to their little sister. Bored with football, I decided that I had the perfect opportunity to explore my parents’ bedroom. My parents, continually harassed by four children, considered their bedroom an oasis, off-limits to us unless by special invitation. Thus, the temptation. I opened the top drawer to my father’s walnut dresser and, standing on tiptoes, peered inside to see what treasures it might hold. Tucked into one corner was an uncovered box, filled with shiny coins that he removed from his trouser pockets each night. I quickly snatched a nickel and dropped it into the front pocket of my skirt. Glancing over my shoulder guiltily, I found that the world had not changed one bit, so I continued exploring.
Wedged into the back of the drawer, under some graying, fraying hankies, there was a tube-shaped object, kind of brassy in color. My fingers reached for it, closing around the cool metal and pulling it forward. As I examined it more closely, I found that one end was narrow, with a circle of glass over it, while the other end was wider with a fuzzy bit of glass covering it. I put the narrow end up to my eye to look inside and squealed in delight at the storm of colors that rained down. This of course brought my brothers running. My life of crime was over, but my lifelong love of kaleidoscopes had just begun.
Kaleidoscopes represent the beauty of diversity to me – all the ways we can create a mix of people that come together in wonderful new configurations. As a facilitator of adult learning, it is invaluable to have numerous strategies for grouping and regrouping learners so that they share their talents and ideas in new ways. There are times when it is best to intentionally assign specific individuals to work together, while there are other times when random regrouping leads to wonderful collaboration. My love of kaleidoscopes reminds me of the importance of mixing things up. And, I have learned that I don't like being in trouble! That's why, whenever I run a training class, I always have a cheat sheet with me that lists 9 ways to quickly develop new groups. I can mix participants up on the spur of the moment - in response to lagging energy, a chatty table or the need for new ideas. Here are 9 of my "go-to's."
Looking for more ideas that keep you out of trouble? Check out "Caffeinated Learning: How to Design and Conduct Rich, Robust Professional Training"
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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