Most adult learners appreciate an interactive teaching format that includes discussion, group work, activities, experiences, and simulations. Learning increases as content is conveyed, not only through interactive lectures, but also from participating in activities.
CPI training programs incorporate a variety of proven adult learning principles. These include:
  • Extensive levels of interaction.
  • Clear and simple resources.
  • Immediate and realistic application of concepts and skills.
Two of my favorite areas of teaching and learning include the processes of interaction and discovery. In fact, many Certified Instructors often ask me about a brief activity I sometimes use when introducing the CPI Crisis Development Model℠.
This technique involves respectfully introducing a safe amount of Anxiety into my participant group. I sometimes do this by introducing the Crisis Development Model℠ nonverbally. Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how I integrate this brief experience into my trainings:
Before class
  • Before class, I respectfully approach a participant and ask them to help me with an activity during class.
  • I assure the participant that I will not touch them or hurt them in any way during the activity.
  • After obtaining their permission, I explain that I will be introducing an element of surprise just before I teach the Crisis Development Model℠.
  • I further explain that they respond to a surprise in a way that feels most natural to them. The purpose of this exercise is to help the other participants identify a simple concept relevant to the conditions.
  • I often tell the volunteer that I will reward them for their participation with a CPI poster.
  • I then say nothing further about the particulars of this exercise.
During class
  • Just before teaching the Crisis Development Model℠, I deliberately and suddenly pause and look intently at my volunteer.
  • While continuing eye contact with the volunteer, I will often cross my arms and change my facial expression.
  • I don’t maintain these expressions for any specific length of time. Instead, I wait for noticeable changes in participant behavior. Such changes in behavior may involve fidgeting, laughing, changes in facial expression, etc.
  • Once enough time has passed, I return to a more conventional teaching style and thank the volunteer for their assistance.
  • If I promised the volunteer a poster or another incentive, I follow through with the reward.
Debriefing the activity
After thanking my volunteer, I ask all participants for their interpretation of what transpired. Typical responses include:
  • “Something was wrong!”
  • “You stopped talking…”
  • “You stopped smiling…”
  • “You crossed your arms!”
Typically, I observe behavioral changes in the participant group, and I then share these observations with them. Examples include:
  • “Some of you fidgeted.”
  • “I noticed a few of you laughing.”
  • “A couple people looked at me with questioning facial expressions.”
Applying this activity to your trainings
As you talk through these things, make sure you weave the Term – Definition – Example model into the conversation—offering a definition and description of the Anxiety level of the Crisis Development Model℠. This also helps to reinforce the importance of tone, volume, and cadence, and how paraverbal communication can escalate or de-escalate a situation.
There will be many other opportunities to integrate takeaways from this activity in other CPI training programs.