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IACTP's Icebreakers and more.

IACTP's Icebreakers and More, created and edited by Joe Bouchard, Aurora, Colo., International Association of Correctional Training Personnel, 2009, 78 pp.

As a correctional trainer for the past 24 years, I have always been concerned with relaxing attendees enough to be receptive to training and view it as something worthwhile. Their attitudes may range from "this could be interesting; I will give it a chance," to "I don't want to be here; it's my day off." Throw in other attitudes such as "the captain says that I have to go," and trainers are challenged to set a positive tone, without being awkward, for the training that is to follow.

Trainers may search their local bookstores or the Internet for brain teasers or "icebreakers," but the book IACTP'S Icebreakers and More, created and edited by Joe Bouchard, is a one-stop resource for making a training session comfortable and friendly. It is a great follow-up to Bouchard's 2007 Icebreakers 101.

The book contains 25 "icebreakers" or classroom exercises that are clearly explained in terms of purpose and methods. The icebreakers represent a wide perspective--eight veteran correctional trainers submitted exercises in addition to the 17 that Bouchard, authored or adapted. Trainers may find some more interesting and feasible to use than others, buy that does not take away from the book's usefulness. Bouchard knows his subject. He is a veteran correctional trainer and writer, and an adjunct faculty member at Gogebic Community College, in Michigan. Since 1993, Bouchard has been the prison librarian at Michigan Department of Corrections' Baraga Correctional Facility. In addition, Bouchard is the editor of The Correctional Trainer, the official publication of the International Association of Correctional Training Personnel.

There are several icebreakers that I liked very much. An example is "ABC - Alphabet Soup," which involves participants guessing the titles of movies and TV shows when titles' initials are displayed. If some attendees are shy or quiet, the challenge is how to engage them. The "Forced Impromptu Speech Opportunity" is designed to get trainees out of their chairs and in front of the group talking about different topics. Some icebreakers have a direct correlation to different aspects of corrections. For example, "Anti Socials" results in trainees discussing deviant behavior--something that correctional staff encounter daily. "Musical Stares" is an exercise that illustrates the impact of staring, a form of nonverbal communication that occurs in correctional facilities. Another exercise I found particularly interesting is "Perceptions and Reality," which brings perceptions that many people have about corrections out in the open. This can lead to valuable discussions.

Teambuilding is important in any training session. In corrections, it is hoped that attendees come away with an appreciation of the teamwork that is necessary to help us do our jobs. I found the icebreaker "Ultimate Teambuilding Exercise: The Facility Search for Contraband" useful, as it discusses the need for teamwork in searching for contraband and lays out a strategy to do so in a classroom setting.

IACTP'S Icebreakers and More should be in every correctional trainer's library. After using these methods, trainers should have a more positive training experience. I know I will.

Reviewed by Lt. Gary F. Cornelius (retired), a corrections veteran, trainer, author and co-founder of ETC, LLC: Education and Training in Corrections.
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Author:Cornelius, Gary F
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2010
Words:540
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