How Ice Breakers Will Make You a Better Teacher of Adult Students

People tend to laugh when you mention using an ice breaker in the classroom, but there are five good reasons you should use them if you teach adults. Ice breakers can make you a better teacher because they help your adult students get to know each other better, and when adults are more comfortable in their surroundings, it's easier for them to learn.

So in addition to using ice breakers for introductions, which you probably already do, here are five more ways ice breakers will make you a better teacher.

Close up of studentÍs face in class
Cultura/yellowdog / Getty Images

In a previous life, I wrote training programs for corporations. I started every new lesson in every program with a short warm up exercise that lasted just five or 10 minutes. Why?

No matter where you're teaching adults—at school, in the workplace, at the community center—they come to the classroom with minds full of the myriad things we all balance every day. Any pause in learning allows those daily responsibilities to creep in.

When you start each new lesson with a short warm up that relates to the topic, you're allowing your adult students to switch gears, once again, and focus on the topic at hand. You're engaging them. More »

Mature students in class, woman sleeping on desk
JFB / Getty Images

We've all seen students who look bored out of their minds, whose eyes have glazed over. Their heads are propped up on their hands or buried in their phones. Do they think you don't notice?

Take action! You need an energizer to wake people up. Party games are good for this purpose. You'll get groans, but in the end, your students will be laughing, and then they'll be ready to get back to work.

The idea behind these games is to take a quick break that's very easy. We're going for light fun and laughs here. Laughter pumps oxygen through your body and wakes you up. Encourage your students to be silly if they want to. More »

Group of businesspeople clapping at lecture
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

When something is kinetic, its energy comes from movement. Some of the energizers in No. 2 are kinetic, but not all. In this collection, you'll find games that get your students moving in a way that creates kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is good because it not only wakes up your students' bodies, it wakes up their minds. More »

Smiling adult education students using digital tablet in classroom
Hero Images / Getty Images

What could make test prep more fun than playing a game to review the material?

Show your students how fun you are by choosing one of our ​Games for Test Prep. They won't all fit your situation, but one of them is sure to. At the very least, they'll inspire you to come up with a test review game of your own.

Research shows that students who vary the way they study and the places they study remember more, partly because of association. That's our aim here. Have fun before test time, and see if grades go up. More »

adult education: Diverse mature students working in their college library
track5 / Getty Images

When you're teaching adults, you've got people in your classroom with loads of personal experience. Since they're in the classroom because they want to be, you can pretty much expect that they're open to meaningful conversation.

Conversation is one of the ways in which adults learn--through the sharing of ideas. Inspire conversation in your classroom by following Ron Gross's ideas: The Importance of Meaningful Conversation, and by using Table Topics, cards with thought-provoking questions. More »