Full Plate

So many times we go into a professional learning session, meeting, or our classroom to teach even, and the litany of distractions in our minds starts to roll like film.  There’s even research now to show that people who don’t take their smartphones into meetings are more successful! We live in a ridiculously fast-paced world, so here’s an icebreaker to help shelf some of the distractions and focus on what we gathered together to do.

  1.  Hand each participant a paper plate and a pen.
  2. Explain that we are all busy, we are all preoccupied, and no matter how much we all want to be here and now, there are some things that creep into our brain because our plates are so full.
  3. Direct each person to “fill their plate” with all the thoughts, to-do items, concerns, and distractions that might keep them from focusing.  Watch how differently people go at this task…list makers, artists, anarchists, etc.!
  4. Go around and share a few of the things that you’ve put onto your plates, then flip them over and write the purpose of your gathering in the center with nothing else.  Focus the group on that purpose while you are together and let them know when you’re done, they can flip it back over and get back into all the things on their minds.

(For an online class, have participants make their plate as a Wordle…then add the focus word 25 times so it shows up as the center of the poster.)

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