by Christine Peace, Behavior Coach
Sometimes, activities that create friction can lead to cohesion if the appropriate support, direction, and debriefing are provided. One of these activities is Zoom, a group challenge utilizing skills such as visual literacy, communication, listening, and empathy. It also allows for the opportunity of growth in leadership skills and conflict resolution. To effectively implement Zoom, however, it is important that you have a rapport with your group and, if possible, to have more than one staff present.
So then, what exactly is Zoom? Essentially, Zoom is a collection of 30 pictures, which can be purchased through Amazon in book format (I cut each picture out and laminated them to ensure they could be re-used for years to come). Each picture is handed out to an individual in the group, with the clear direction they cannot show their picture to anyone else.
Group members are then instructed that they must work together, without showing their pictures to one another, to try to figure out the order of the pictures. Depending on the group size, at times I have had to give individuals multiple pictures as each picture is needed for the whole picture to come together at the end. As group members decide the correct order of pictures, they lay them face down across the floor so the pictures still cannot be seen.
Once directions are given, I always try to step back and allow for natural leaders from the group to step into that void. I will provide a timeframe and, as I am seeing the work coming to a halt, start letting them know how much time they will have to finish up. I also provide reminders for them not to show their pictures to their peers, as usually at least several members attempt to do so.
As the activity begins, many aspects of the group dynamic can be observed and potentially shifted. Who is stepping up to take the lead? Is the group breaking out of its normal subgroups to complete the task? Often, there will be resistance to breaking out of subgroups initially. This is also where I struggle to remain detached while observing. I encourage you to allow the process to take place, with reminders of whatever time structure you have set.
Conflict will also arise frequently. It is important that you know your group, to determine how much support is required to encourage conflict resolution. Do you need to intervene? Can you just use body proximity, to provide non-verbal direction through your position that you are available for support? A member may walk out, that is okay. This is not only an opportunity for growth within the group, but also for the individual. Following the completion of the activity, it is important to debrief.
Prior to debriefing, however, all the pictures are flipped over and reviewed. How successful was the group in completing the task? In some instances, I have allowed the group a re-do if they really struggled or if they seem motivated and express that they could have done better. Usually, if a re-do is decided, I may add an additional expectation, such as a shorter or stricter time limit. I will also have the members discuss what they can do better the next time around. Regardless it there is a re-do or not, I always include areas of improvement that the students can identify in the debriefing.
Debriefing can often involve a series of questions and an opportunity for group members to share on their experiences, facilitating an opportunity for them to gain insight. Without this time, it may seem to the students that they just played an unimportant game that caused unresolved conflict. Often while observing the process of the Zoom activity, I will begin coming up with questions I plan to ask during debriefing. However, I will also allow the conversation to flow where the members take it.
Zoom is one of my favorite activities. It really allows the facilitator to develop a deeper understanding of their group dynamics. It also allows group members to develop stronger cohesion with their peers. The benefits include increased empathy, listening, communication, conflict resolution, and leadership skills. It also provides an opportunity for practice of self-regulation. Is this something you would like to try with your class? Do you have a favorite activity to assess the group dynamic and increase group cohesion?
Book: Zoom by Istvan Banyai