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Professional Development Engagement Strategies: Anytime Connectors

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In her book, Lose the Lecture: Engaging Approaches to Early Childhood Professional LearningTeresa A. Byington, PhD explains that effective engagement strategies are key for adult learning and professional development. Effective engagement strategies include a wide variety of methods that trainers use to keep
learners interested and involved in the topic. During engagement strategies, learners are actively involved in processing and retaining information, so the strategies reinforce the main concepts being taught. Learners benefit when they can hear, see, discuss, and experience learning material in a variety of ways. 

One of the ways in which to do this is through what Teresa Byington calls anytime connectors. Anytime connectors are activities to build connections with each other throughout training sessions, not just at the beginning. One example of these are minute-to-win-it games in which participants have one minute to complete a challenge either as individuals or as a team. These activities make great team-building exercises. Try searching online for a countdown timer with music and adding it to your PowerPoint slides. After the game, lead a whole-group discussion on topics such as teamwork and communication. Below are two examples of Anytime Connector Minute-to-Win-It Games from Lose the Lecture

Stacking Cups

In this challenge, the goal is to create the tallest tower in one minute. Towers often fall before time runs out, leaving teams scrambling to build them back up. The tallest tower is frequently over twelve cups high.


  • 16 plastic cups per team
  • 16 index cards (4” x 6”) per team

What To Do

1. Place participants in teams of four to six people.

2. Give each team a set of cups and index cards.

3. Tell the teams that they must create the tallest tower possible in one minute by alternating cups and index cards.

4. Start the timer, and watch the fun!

5. When time runs out, count the cups and cards in each tower to find the tallest one. Lead a round of applause for the winners.

Creating Pyramids

Teams attempt to create a pyramid in less than one minute. Teams can often complete this challenge before time runs out.


  • 6 plastic cups per team
  • rubber band with 6 long strings attached to it at equal increments (1 set per team)

What To Do

1. Place participants in teams of six members, and pass out the materials.

2. Explain that each team member must hold the end of a string and pull or relax to adjust the rubber band.

3. Announce that the teams have one minute to build a pyramid (three cups on the bottom, two cups in the middle, and one cup at the top) without touching the cups with their hands.

4. Start the timer, and watch the fun!

5. When time runs out, lead a round of applause for all teams that completed their pyramids.

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