Establish an imaginary line approx 5 to 8 metres long between two points on the ground.
Explain that each end of the line represents two ends of a spectrum, such as hot to cold, high to low, 1 to 10, etc.
Pose a question or create a scenario, asking everyone in the group to stand along that point of the line which matches their personal response.
Repeat, if necessary, with varying scenarios.
Video Transcript for Spectrums Debrief
presented by Mark Collard
Here’s a little exercise. You’ll note that on the floor I’ve created a space between in this case a couple of little witches’ hats. They are very tiny. Well this is how all witches’ hats start, as babies, and then they grow up to become big ones by the side of the road.
So… And imagine between this point… in fact I might make this just a little bigger, because it’s a bigger group… that between these two points we have an imaginary line, and I’d like you to imagine it as what we call a spectrum, a spectrum.
That is to say one end if it was the whitest of white, it went through all the shades of white into grey, to dark grey, charcoal, to the blackest of black. That would be what’s referred to as a spectrum. We could also view it as a spectrum based on a zero through all the numbers up to say a ten.
I’m going to give you three criteria and I’m going to ask you to physically stand on this spectrum according to the response you have to each of the three criteria that I give you. There is no wrong or right answer, however my guess is most of you are going to be spread across the spectrum.
Okay. So to repeat, in a moment I’m going to give you a piece of criteria. I’m going to ask you to stand… it’s nonverbal, you don’t have to do anything but maybe just check where everyone else is along this line.
The spectrum I will use here is a zero through to a ten. So zero means absolutely nothing, not that it necessarily is a fail but there was nothing recorded. At this end, oh my goodness, we could not have done any better. We could not have recorded a result more strong, more powerful. That’s ten out of ten effectively. This is zero out of ten.
Your first one is when you think back over the approach and the experiences that I have shared with you today, and what maybe you’ve already done yesterday, on the first part, developing a sense of community, how well has this approach and the experiences I’ve shared with you achieved that mark?
If you don’t believe it actually did do that then it’s a zero out of ten, not a wrong or a right. It’s your personal opinion. If it’s a ten out of ten you would have other reasons for suggesting that you’d be standing there or anything in between.
So think about the approach that’s being used today and shared with you but also some of the experiences. One of your key objectives in your program within the YMCA is to develop a stronger sense of community. Find where along this line in general would you stand. Go. You all have your own reasons for why you are standing where you’re standing. At this stage do not share those with others.
(people taking positions along Spectrums Debrief)
So there’s a bunch of you generally speaking in the top half, probably five or whatever through to the nines or tens or something. Okay, great.
I would like you now to spend the next minute to find one or two people around you because it’s possible you have a similar perspective to this question and share with them why you’re standing where you’re standing, and focusing on developing sense of community, just that, not anything else. Go. Why you’re standing where you’re standing.
(people discussing as part of Spectrums Debrief)
So on a basis of personal growth or development, again zero out of ten to ten out of ten, thinking about the approach that we’ve shared these two days but also many of the experiences, how might these contribute? You’d say everything we did was ten out of ten, five out of ten, or zero out of ten. Whereabouts would you be on that line? How might this approach contribute to that goal? Again once you get to a certain spot, share with one or two people around you about why you’re standing where you’re standing.
(people taking positions along Spectrums Debrief)
How To Play Narrative
Position your group so that they can see a line (imaginary or otherwise) marked on the ground about 5 to 8 metres long (depending on how many people are in your group.)
Once this ‘line’ has been established in your group’s mind, describe what each end of the spectrum represents. For example, one end represents the blackest of blacks, and the other, the whitest of whites, with all the shades of grey in between.
Next, pose a question, make a statement or create a scenario, and ask everyone in the group to stand along that point of the line which matches their personal response.
On occasions, this is all you may have time for. But, if you feel that there is value in drilling further down, present one or more related scenarios.
To this point, no one has been required to say anything, and that’s one of the strengths of this technique. However, on occasions I will ask people to turn to the people next to them and share why they are standing where they are standing.
Practical Leadership Tips
Take a look at Why Conduct A Debrief Anyway? to learn about the benefits of processing your group’s experience, and how to run a successful debrief.
Sometimes it’s easier to use two objects, such as cones or chairs, etc, to identify the two ends of the spectrum. If they are placed inside a particularly large area, you will often see people step beyond these points just to have some fun (or make a point.)
Do not feel it is necessary to invite your group to actually talk to one another once they have positioned themselves on the line. You may wish to invite the group to simply observe where other people are standing, and where the bulk of the group is situated. Enough said.
However, integrating this strategy with Paired Share Debrief, for example, can be a brilliant way to invite some valuable sharing.
Observe the ‘sheep’ mentality of some groups. That is, where most people stand closely together so as not to stand out from the group. On occasions, this may be applicable, but rarely is a group so attuned to one another that they all think the same. This is rarely the case, but some folks may not feel comfortable expressing a different opinion. To prevent this from occurring, consider the sequence of your lead-in activities to prepare your group to share, allowing individuals to make appropriate decisions. The more time you invest in establishing trusting and healthy relationships, the more likely you will see a fair spread of opinions.
You could integrate Spectrums Debrief as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to understand their emotions, thoughts and values and how these influence behaviour in different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
Inviting individuals to reflect on their own emotions, thoughts and values and stand as part of a line relative to other members of the group is all about accountability. Choosing where to stand is acknowledging and being accountable for a particular stance or belief. To this end, if exploring accountability is one of your program goals, be sure to provide opportunities for people to move their spot in the line after they become aware of new or different information (ie when others share why they are standing where they are standing) that may change their minds.
All reflection involves some form of mindful activity, especially if you choose to conduct this exercise in a non-verbal manner.
Multiple Choices: Introduce two or more ‘spectrums’ in a row to gain a deeper understanding. This can also be achieved with the same topic, eg pre, during and post reflections.
Shared Spectrums: Invite two or three people who happen to be standing close to one another, to share why they are standing where they are standing. See Paired Share Debrief.
Opposites Attract: Once people have positioned themselves, fold the ‘line’ in the middle and invite the opposite ends to meet and share why they are standing where they are standing.
Take a look at Fill The Gap and Whip Around as two possible options for inviting sharing as part of this reflection strategy.
Open the Virtual Adaptation tab to learn how to present this activity online.
Use screen sharing software (such as Whiteboardfox or the annotate function of Zoom) that will allow for asynchronous collaboration. Instruct your group how to use the software, and then pose your first scenario drawing a straight line on the screen to indicate the ends of the imagined spectrum. Invite each person to annotate the line with a symbol (to keep it anonymous) or with their name. Clear the annotations between each scenario/round.
Useful set of emotive cards to encourage fun & reflection.
Useful Framing Ideas
It may sound like…
“IMAGINE THAT THIS END OF THE LINE MEANS EXTREMELY EASY, AND THIS OTHER END OF THE LINE MEANS IMPOSSIBLE, AND ALL OTHER LEVELS OF EASY TO HARD FIT IN BETWEEN THIS SPECTRUM. THINKING ABOUT [enter relevant topic…], WHERE WOULD YOU STAND ON THIS LINE IN REGARDS THE RELATIVE EASE OF THAT TASK – AT ONE END, OR THE OTHER, OR SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN?”
“IMAGINE THERE IS AN INVISIBLE LINE WHICH EXTENDS BETWEEN THIS WALL AND THE OTHER. IF THIS END IS TEN AND THE OTHER IS ZERO, ALL OF THE OTHER NUMBERS FALL IN BETWEEN. THINKING ABOUT HOW WELL YOU WORKED TOGETHER AS A GROUP TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM, STAND ALONG THIS LINE ACCORDING TO HOW WELL YOU PERSONALLY THINK THE GROUP PERFORMED OUT OF TEN…”
The inspiration for Spectrums Debrief was sourced from one of the many wonderful trainers I have worked with over the years. Exactly who, I have now forgotten.