Facilitation Lessons from a First Grade Teacher

connectionMy daughter’s first grade teacher called me the day before school started. She was calling to remind me that the school’s open house was that evening. As we introduced ourselves, we talked about how she and my daughter share the same first name. During our conversation, we also discovered that they share the same middle name, same initials, and same birthday. When they finally met in person that evening, my daughter and her teacher were elated to meet the person with whom they share so much in common. When I dropped my little girl off on her first day at school the next morning, she comfortably greeted her teacher as if they had known one another for years. Continue reading

5 Icebreaking Activities that can be Connected to Your Content

Earlier this week, as I was traveling to the east coast, I was texting back and forth with my wife about icebreaking activities. She had to do an icebreaker for a meeting and it needed to be connected to the content on which she would later present (yes, our text exchanges are extremely romantic!!).


I asked about the content she was presenting. Her meeting was going to focus on working across departments, which would represent a major culture shift.

I suggested that she open by asking everyone to Continue reading

A Poem for Mr. Sketch (reprised)

When I conduct a train the trainer program, I often like to present the trainers with a gift of a new package of Mr. Sketch markers upon completing the course.

Earlier this week, I spent some time working with a team of trainers and once again had the pleasure of introducing the joys of my favorite office supply. During the program, a colleague asked me to do a dramatic reading of a poem I had once written about Mr. Sketch.

I wrote this poem in December 2012, the first year that I was blogging. The words of this poem ring no less true today than they did four and a half years ago. Following is a reprinting of that poem (with all new photos of people enjoying the amazing scents).

If you are so moved do your own dramatic reading of this poem and post it on YouTube and if you send me a link (bpwashburn at gmail dot com), I will send you a fresh, new package of Mr. Sketch markers.

BW and JN

Brian sniffing grape while Josie sniffs orange during a break from a Competency-based Assessment workshop

Continue reading

Sometimes you just have to be silly


I looked on in horror as the facilitator arched her back, lifted her shoulders, raised her arms as if she had claws, opened her mouth and let out something resembling a screech.

I was at the LINGOs Global Learning Forum, attending Kristin Hibler‘s session on “L&D Applications of Improv”, and one at a time we were all supposed to copy what the facilitator had just done.

Nope. Uh-uh. Continue reading

Puzzle Me This: An activity for team dynamics

Effective working groups thrive on healthy team dynamics.

Over the past month or so I’ve opened several different multi-day workgroup sessions with an activity that has gone over quite well with audiences that have ranged from executive teams to frontline staff.

Puzzles 1

Following are the guidelines for the activity. It includes teamwork, puzzles, lockboxes and the need to listen to instructions. Continue reading