The Snap Cup

If there’s one thing educators love even more than reflection, it’s ice breakers. The first week back is full of “getting to know you activities” and clever ways to personalize otherwise mundane policy reviews, cleverly disguised as “Professional Development.” I have participated in 6, maybe 7,000 ice breakers in my day. I can’t stand them, mostly because I have had two traumatic ice-breaker experiences:

1) In college, some freaks from the Psi Chi Honors’ Society* had us all share our “favorite scab or scar” and how we got it. It was a disgusting over-sharing situation.

2) In another ice-breaking trauma, in a conference, I was asked to go first and say something unique about me. I went for my standard reply of “I own a greyhound dog.” (group: murmer… murmer…they’re fast…murmer…racing dogs…murmer). Then, one by one, people shared the most heart-wrenching facts about what makes them unique (e.g. I have cancer, I escaped communist Cambodia), making me sound guarded and shallow. I almost changed my answer to “What’s unique about me is that I have appropriate boundaries when sharing to a group of strangers.”

In any event, every agenda this week has right on top “Ice-Breaker!” and I curse myself for showing up on time. Today, we had an ice-breaker in which we were all to write things that we appreciated about each other and put them in an envelope for the person to read at the end of the day. I thought this activity would be the equivalent of the “Snap Cup” from Legally Blonde 2**, in which Elle Woods tries to cheer up the nerds in her Washington legal office with a cup filled with saccharine affirmations from her coworkers. I thought at any moment we would all join hands and sing the Snap Cup song:


It’s Snap Cup time; it’s Snap Cup time, Gather ye round, Friends and foes together, United and bound, Pass it to your neighbor, Instead of blowing up, And we’ll find harmony and love in the- *snap * SNAP CUP!!

At the end of the day, I grabbed my envelope, and once I got to my car, read the positive affirmations that my co-workers put in my envelope. I have to admit, I got a little choked up. They were so sweet and genuine. A few teachers wrote what they appreciated about me from last year and a few wrote about tiny things I had done in the week that they thought were great.

Much to my chagrin, the ice is (somewhat) broken on my feelings on ice-breakers.

*Of which I was a member (nerd alert!), until said icebreaker incident
**What? Like you didn’t secretly want to see it.

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Comments on The Snap Cup

  1. Anonymous says:

    After enduring two weeks of back-to-school “trainings,” this made me laugh so hard. Between the traumatic over-share ice-breakers and the end-of-workshop proclamations that lives have been transformed (some people are very affected by PowerPoints), I was beginning to think I was the only one who dreads these workplace emotion fests. I’m glad your ice-breaker turned out to be a good one!

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