How can you bring more fun to CPD?
If you have to deliver training to your colleagues on an inset day then this can be more nerve-racking than tightrope walking between two hot air balloons. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Getting CPD ‘right’ is a skill. It can be fun but it can also be excruciating. It can pong and it can perfume. It can captivate and it can decapitate. Some CPD sessions are as dry as the Atacama Desert because they are PowerPoint-heavy and bring about a sort of CPD-influenza where you feel exhausted and out of it. No one wants CPD to be Continuous PowerPoint Drivel.
Of course some CPD can be dazzling and delivered by a thought leader who provides high quality and relevant training based on what teachers want to learn. CPD varies in its quality but the most memorable and dynamic sessions bung lots of ingredients into the blender and serve up a real training smoothie. The best CPD sessions make training like going to see a film by making it fun and something you can treasure, enjoy and then readily use in your classroom.
If you have run an external session then you will know the value of an ‘icebreaker’ especially in a setting where lots of staff come together from different schools. There are plenty of icebreakers to choose from but getting ‘non-awkward’ ones that have real value for using in different contexts are rare.
Some say that one-size doesn’t fit all but I think the following activity proves that wrong.
The M&M Game
The M&M Game or the ‘getting to know me’ game is an activity ideal for inset and great for the classroom.
What to do
Give each of the participants or a group of participants a bag of M&Ms and ask everyone to sort their bag by colour.
For the number of each colour they have to answer specific questions as follows (you can adapt these)
- Green M&Ms - List strategies you can use to improve behaviour in your class
- Yellow M&Ms - List strategies to encourage more dialogue
- Red M&Ms - List strategies for improving your time management
- Brown M&Ms - List people on Twitter that have the most influence on your educational thinking
- Blue M&Ms - List ways that your school could improve its staffroom
- Orange M&Ms - List strategies that can improve your wellbeing and work-life balance
For example, if one group have 5 red M&Ms then they collectively pool their ideas and list 5 ways they can 'steal time'. The value is all in the doing and sharing and getting everyone to contribute by discussing their thinking.
The M&M Game is a game that produces bags of chatter and effortlessly involves everyone. When teams share their responses, it often reveals more than teachers bargained for as questions can unearth some interesting values, beliefs, visions and attitudes. These provoke new thinking and get everyone questioning and thinking more.
Giving everyone the opportunity to eat the well-fingered M&Ms at the end of the session gets a Hygiene rating of 1 so if you want, treat your participants to their own bag.
The M&M Game is a creative, flexible and fun activity that has a serious side to it but is well worth trying in a staff meeting, training session or something to try in class.
Other ideas you could feed into the M&M game include:
- List the strategies you can set high expectations for quality work
- List the strategies for developing a growth mindset
- List the strategies for being a ‘black-belt’ at assessment
- List the strategies you can pimp (prepare, innovate, motivate and perfect) your lesson planning
- List the strategies you can RIP (refine, improve, polish) your differentiation
- List the strategies you can make cultivate imaginative tension
- List the ways Governors can help a school improve
- List the ways you can liberate your subject-specialism
- List the ways you can build learner autonomy
- List the ways can you prove that learning has taken place
- List the ways you can be a better teacher detective
- List the ways you can super-size the learning experience
- List the ways you would build pupil feedback skills
- List __ things your curriculum is missing
- List __ things that get children excited about learning
- List __ things you can do to make your lessons relevant
- List __ things to remember about display
- List __ things not to say at parents’ evening
- List __ things that make a good teacher
- List __ positive teacher acts
- List __ hallmarks of a successful primary classroom
- List __ fads to avoid
- List __ culturally inclusive teaching strategies for pupil success
- List __ things to avoid when questioning
Rather than a list of ideas, the game can be arranged so that each player takes just one colour and they share the assigned piece of information, e.g.
M&M - Marvellous Me:
Red: Share a career dream you have for your future
Orange: Share a ‘wow’ moment that happened in class last week
Yellow: Share something that people in school admire about you
Blue: Share a time when you helped a colleague improve their teaching
Brown: Share one non-school target for yourself this year
Green: Share a personal talent you have with the group
The M&M game actually lends itself to a main focus activity for a staff training session and can deliver a deeper understanding of what it means to be a professional. Talking through some of the questions can ignite more discussion and support the improvement of knowledge, understanding and skills.
The M&M game can help us make a meaningful contribution to our team and everyone we work with and help us stay in both the interested and interesting zones.
About the author
John is an ex-primary school teacher and Ofsted inspector who has spent the last 20 years working in the education industry as a teacher, writer and editor. John’s specialist area is primary maths but he also loves teaching science and English. John has written a number of educational and children’s books, and contributed over 1,000 articles and features to various educational bodies. John is Eteach’s school leadership and Ofsted advice guru, sharing insights on best practice for motivating and enriching a school team, as well as sharing savvy career steps for headteachers and SLT.