Today, I attended my first day on PostGraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP) programme. It is the first of a five day intensive course and I have already learnt so much. The programme was introduced by Pauline Kneale and this highlighted the importance and development of our professional practice within Higher Education.
Then Becky Turner started our learning with a Starter Task which was to identify a positive educational experience and discuss them in small groups. This really worked on the socialisation within the group, allowing us to introduce ourselves in small groups and made us feel comfortable in the learning environment.
These Starter Tasks act as Ice Breakers within group situations before the ‘real’ learning begins. I don’t tend to use Ice Breakers in group work situation but it is something I would definitely try to incorporate from now on. The anxiety of entering a new environment with new people can be a little scary and breaking the group into mini sub-groups allows people to forge relationships and share experiences and thoughts. Once we had time to chat amongst our small groups we were then asked to feedback some of our positive educational experiences to the whole group, again, a great way to introduce yourself to the group in a constructive and relaxing way.
If I am to incorporate Ice Breakers to my teaching I will tailor the Starter Task to be appropriate with the subject I am teaching. This gives the group some common ground to share experiences and open conversation. Naturally there are confident people and shy people, and the confident people will always be the first to open up to the group. Using Starter Tasks helps to bridge that gap in shyness and it is more likely to engage my learners from the outset.