I’ve been facilitating groups of graduate students for a local university for about ten years. When I first began I was introduced to a warm-up activity entitled GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS by my colleague, Michael Anderson. At the time I thought it was a pretty basic activity, primarily giving us something to do while others filed in for the beginning of class. The group members did not seem terribly excited about this group check-in where we sat in a circle and everyone had a chance to tell about any good or bad news they wished to share. To my surprise, as the group repeated this activity session after session, more people began to participate, offering their positive and negative experiences from the week and listening to others as they took their turns. They even began to comment on each other’s musings, offering support and connections to their previous comments. I began to be aware that something special was happening to the group and I think it had something to do with this activity.

I began to use this activity when I met with groups of children in my role as a school counselor. They had the same response: they liked the opportunity to talk about aspects of their previous week. One child asked if they could offer comments of a random nature, not good or not bad. Our activity was renamed GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS/JUST NEWS.

It’s taken me a while to understand the power and meaning of this simple activity. I believe it has something to do with the fact that people today have little time to tell others about themselves and to listen to others doing the same. It may be because there is a relationship between sharing feelings with others and building trust with those others. That is, as people trust other members of a group, they are more willing to share their thoughts and experiences. And as they share their thoughts and experiences with others, the result is trust building.

Adults, especially teachers, have little time in their busy days to share their professional and personal feelings with others. We keep all of these thoughts bottled up inside because we have not the time or the place to share them. Finding opportunities to do that offers great release and increases professional efficacy and personal satisfaction. We challenge you to find opportunities to do this for yourself and also to create opportunities for the same with your students.


February 28, 2010. Uncategorized.


  1. Joanie replied:

    Very nice, I have to agree that teachers have little time to communicate with others about themselves or their lives. Nicely written Jon!!

  2. Maureen Thomsen replied:

    I’ve used a similar activity with great success with high school students in my English classes. I call it a “Fire Pit”– we use a rock to pass around as the group sits in a circle on the floor- whoever holds the rock has the floor, and everyone else listens as this person shares. Everytime I use this activity with a group (and I’ve done it with even larger groups of 30+ students) I’m amazed at the community building, the sharing and the respect. Human beings need this kind of communicating and a classroom activity like this can provide it.

  3. Shantelle LaFontaine-Larson replied:

    I have used a similar activity in my advisory class. We call it High/Low. Tell your high (good thing) from the day or week and tell your low (the bad thing)from the day or week. I think this activity is a great way to build relationships with the students and to build a sense of community in the class.

  4. Briana Sykora replied:

    I love the idea of adding “just news”! Sometimes students feel blocked by telling news that is only good or bad, but if they can share just anything, then they feel invited to share.

    Plus sharing always encourages others to see you as a human and not just another classmate or teacher. So many connections can be made that way!

  5. Terri R. replied:

    Starting out the day with highs and lows also lets the community know how other members are feeling. In my MAED cohort one woman was especially sad when she explained that she hadn’t heard from some of her relatives that were living in Japan when the tsunami hit. The rest of the group quietly sat and listened as she described what a difficult week she had had. Needless to say, our lows didn’t seem quite as bad.

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