Ice Breaker Activities for Teacher Professional Development

Part of being a teacher includes attending a lot of professional development.

Professional development is a necessary part of being an educator. As a facilitator, it is often hard to get attendees excited about the topic being presented or able to speak to one another with ease. Icebreakers offer an opportunity for adults to interact with one another with a short, but fun, activity that will get everyone talking, laughing and prepared for the professional development ahead.

1 Getting to Know You Grid

In this activity, teachers are given a grid three squares across by four squares down. In each of the 12 squares is a descriptive statement like "a person who has traveled out of the state within the last 12 months," "a person who worked in another field before becoming a teacher," and "a person who is a professional development junkie." Have fun with the choices. Once the grid has been created, make enough copies for those attending the professional development session. Give each teacher a paper and tell them that they must go around to the others in attendance and find someone who fits the description of each box in the grid; put each person's name in the appropriate grid square. The only rule is no one's name will fill in more than one box on the grid. This is a great way for everyone to learn about one another before starting the professional development session.

2 Common Chain

The facilitator of the professional development session will stand up and tell the audience about herself; as soon as someone hears something said by the facilitator that he has in common with her, that person will stand up and link arms with the facilitator. The person who has linked his arm with the facilitator will then begin to talk about himself, starting with the thing he has in common with the facilitator. As soon as one of the other teachers hears something she has in common with the person speaking, she will get up an link arms with that person. The chain will continue in this manner until everyone is linked in one long chain. This activity is fun, as people will begin to try to race one another to get to the person speaking next.

3 Marooned

This is a fun activity and there are many variations found online. Break the attendees of the professional development session into groups. Each group is given a scenario where they have been shipwrecked and marooned with specific items necessary to their survival. They are then asked to put those items in order of importance. After giving the groups about 10 minutes to put their survival tools in order, the facilitator goes over the correct way to put the materials in order and why they are put in order in that manner. In the end the groups will tell whether they survived.

4 Group Story

The facilitator will break the attendees up into groups of four or six. Each group is then given a table topic relating to either education or whatever the professional development is covering. The table topic is given as a preliminary statement like "I came to school early in the morning last week and you will not believe what I saw in the parking lot." Each person adds a sentence to the story until the group has a complete story. Give teachers anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes to complete their stories. Allow them sharing time. This activity will get everyone laughing and help to focus everyone back on the day's activities.

Patricia Glaeser started her writing career in 1988, working as an editor for “Downtown Magazine” in Houston. She published her first children’s book in 2008. Glaeser holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas. Additionally, she holds a Master of Arts in humanities and a Master of Science in education management from the University of Houston.