Using Ice Breakers With Your Adult Students

College students in discussion group.
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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.

01
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Get Students Thinking About the Next Topic

Close up of student's face in class

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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.

02
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Wake Them Up!

Mature students in class, woman sleeping on desk.
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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. 

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.

03
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Generate Energy

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When something is kinetic, its energy comes from movement. Some of the energizers in No. 2 are kinetic, but not all. Kinetic energy is good because it not only wakes up your students' bodies, it wakes up their minds.

04
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Make Test Prep More Fun and Effective

Smiling adult education students using digital tablet in classroom
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Show your students how fun you are by creating ​Games for Test Prep. 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.

05
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Inspire Meaningful Conversation

Mature students working in college library
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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 expect that they're open to meaningful conversation. Conversation is one of the ways in which adults learn—through the sharing of ideas.