Do you do "ice-breakers"? What kind?

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Lots of great suggestions and discussions about pros and cons of ice breakers. The first day sets the tone for the course, gives them an idea for what to expect, and I've learned that in my current school, a 20,000 polytechnic state univ, that most students in my class are freshmen who seem to appreciate a more personal start to the course and many of them do better in class discussions after some initial introductions to each other, as well as myself.

Quote from: balefulregardss on January 24, 2013,  9:34:31 PM

Quote from: literarylioness13 on January 24, 2013,  7:09:30 PM


But we can still be friendly with our students without trying to be their friends.  We agree that ice-breaking behaviors somewhat undermine our establishment of a tone of classroom rigor and professionalism.  But I think we should acknowledge that professors other than ourselves can make ice-breaking activities work without sacrificing the image of professorial authority and still teach a rigorously challenging course.  It's just that you and I, along with others, don't wish to bother with what we consider to be forced behaviors to elicit a positive working dynamic from the first meeting of a class.  We're willing to wait weeks or months for that dynamic to happen on its own.  My work is my principal form of social life, and I really enjoy classes more when I can get friendly with students without losing professional distance from them.  I feel more comfortable letting this process happen slowly and not on the first day.

I think friendly is fine, but it is a fine line with some instructors and being "liked." I understand that there are profs with boundary issues when it comes to students.

Are you familiar with "Some People are Different From You"?

How about "Some Disciplines are Different From Yours?"

I am far from easy, soft or have a desire to be liked. I do have a group in a class who must form a cohort and work together towards a common goal. I use ice breaker type games to move the group towards that goal.

Your tone is kind of off putting in these recent posts. You are not me. You are not arpodah, nor burnie, nor dr_alcott.  Dial back the condescension a smidge, please.

The problem with "Some people are different from you" is the large number of people in academia who use it to mean "You cannot possibly criticize me or my methods in any way" for things where different is bad and actively hurts many of the rest of us.

For example, putting on one's socks and then one's pants (right leg first in both cases) is different from pants then socks (left leg first), but the difference isn't bad.  One might be more desirable in certain circumstances, but neither is right more often than the other.

However, I get students who insist that professors are teaching the equivalent of shoes, then pants and are angry that the rest of us won't get with the program because that was so easy for them.  Yes, if one only has huge bell-bottomed pants and ballet slippers, then shoes followed by pants can work.  Otherwise, the rest of us are fighting a battle we wouldn't have to fight if other people would pull their heads out of their asses would make more of an effort to do something that is broadly applicable instead of immediately easy.  Oh, and for those of us who are making sure that the pants are the right way around, tying shoes, and then giving a treat for students who are sitting like good little lumps while you do all the work, knock it off!  Those students have to be able to put on their own pants and tie their own shoes by the time they get to me or we're going to have problems with the next steps.  Teach them how to do it; don't give up and say it doesn't matter.

I get that, Polly.  I find it frustrating when students expect to get out early "because no one goes the full time" and a spoon feeding on the study guide.  And I want to throttle colleagues when I see a paper marked with a big fat A that has unrelated French homework tucked in the middle for padding and then students blame ME for their poor grades because I won't put up with that kind of nonsense. 

But I don't think icebreakers fall in this category, and I don't think that using an ice breaker necessarily infantilizes the class or makes me a pushover.  Like anything else it depends on the course, the instructor and the execution. 

I agree with literarylioness13. And I didn't think his/her tone was in appropriate.

Years ago, I used to post a lot to these boards under a different moniker, but found that there was a lot of name calling and nit picking... and like every other online forum in the world, cliques formed and those posters tended to support each other -- and not so much anyone they saw as "new" or an "outsider." Although I teach English comp and enjoy reading how others in my discipline teach, I found that other disciplines were not represented as well... so there wasn't as much interdisciplinary sharing. Also, there was much commenting about "tone" and correction of grammar, etc. that frustrated me. Even though I've been teaching college for 13 years, I'm here to find little strategies that help me teach better. I don't care if someone uses the quote button correctly, doesn't punctuate their post correctly, or even uses all lower case letters. If it helps me teach better, I'm grateful.

Just sayin'...

Nicely put!


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