Don’t Get Stuck in a Black Hole

The period of time after lunch in a workshop setting with adults can be a little hard to predict. Some might say that period could be referred to as the black hole. It’s a difficult time for collaborating or learning or getting work done. Why? Mainly because everyone’s digestive processes are using too much energy for their brains to work properly. Outwardly, adult learners in this state may appear lethargic and disengaged from their learning.

This is why it’s a good idea to have workshop participants work on a teambuilding activity when they get back from lunch on a professional learning day. Choose an activity that is collaborative and encourages team engagement. Have each team member be responsible for helping and coaching each other through the process until they have successfully completed the task. “Minute to Win it” games are great choices for this, because they are easy and great for teams and groups.

At the Learning Forward annual conference in Orlando we played just such a game called “Yank Me.” To play it you need traditional Solo cups and 5” by 7” index cards. To start, stack the cups upside down in a vertical tower and place an index card in between each cup. The objective is to pull the index cards out and have the cups form a stack from the top down as you pull out the cards. If your stack falls over during the process you have to start again. You need to complete the game in under a minute.

We ended up using about 20-30 minutes of workshop time for the game. However, it was time our team spent working together. By the end, we were not lethargic, we had engaged with each other, the state of our after-lunch brain had been changed, and we were ready to continue our learning. I was made aware of the value of doing something that, even if it may or may not follow the focus of the day, is still important in how it created change in the after-lunch atmosphere.

I will definitely make a point to have workshop participants engage in a physical activity after lunch going forward. This will lead to some active team building to gain energy for the second half of the day.

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