Tools

This is our most requested online section! Here we post reliable training tools (or activities/exercises). All training tools are based on our direct education approach, rooted in popular education.

For even more tools check out our various books & manuals, which include hundreds of additional training tools.

Diversity & Anti-Oppression

Diversity Interviews

How to assist a marginalized individual or subgroup in your workshop to become integrated into the group, and also how to assist the mainstream in your workshop to learn more deeply about difference. This one is best done if you first of all experience it as a participant in a TFC workshop or with another qualified trainer.

Mainstream & Margin

We invented this in response to trainers asking us: what do you do with a group that is genuinely clueless about its racism (sexism/homophobia/ etc.)? We found it works with low-consciousness groups and has tremendous value for experienced activist groups, too.

Power Shuffle

A diversity exercise also called Step Forward/Step Back, this tool can go fairly deep considering it doesn't take much time. When placed well in a workshop, this can be a powerful exercise to help participants understand their rank and privilege or lack of it.

Walking Across the Room

Diversity exercise, also called "Crossing the line"
Goal

To increase awareness of difference in the group
To increase awareness in individuals of their own issues around difference

Team Building

Ankle Walk

A simple group challenge: get across the room as one line together -- with a twist -- keep your ankles together. This adventure-based learning activity can surface group issues around leadership, decision-making, and group conflict.

I Am the Center

Whenever a new group forms people are always curious: Who else is in the room? This kinesthetic exercise allows peoples curiousity to show up and to learn about who is in the room. And, does it in a way that gets people working together.

Task & Maintenance: What Makes Groups Work?

This tool is a quick, easy tool that is effective at helping groups understand the different roles in making groups work: different leadership skills. Its based on a piece of feminist theory that understands different leadership skills: Task and Maintenance.

Team Types

Team types is a straightforward tool for participants to learn about themselves through identifying within four different categories, each representing different aspects of how people may operate in group settings.

Organizing & Strategy

Tornado Warning: Four Roles of Social Change

Here’s a tool to learn about the four roles of social change activists: Helpers, Change Agents, Rebels, and Advocates. It’s goal is to build appreciation of the different roles, gaining empathy for all roles and different approaches to change.

Getting Help: Setting Goals & Using Coaching

Getting help can be hard. It runs counter to many of cultural values: independence, individuality, personal control, self-help, competition, to name a few. Activists tend to focus on skills on help others – but spend less emphasis on our own development. Getting help is necessary. If we are to grow, learn, not burn-out, and win then we need help. In this tool we create some space and time for people to think through how can they continue to learn and get help.

Finding Tactics that Matter

Here is a way to bring out unreflected wisdom about what makes actions effective. Depending on your goals, you may have your own generalization pieces of theory, but a great winner to help kick-start people thinking innovatively about tactics.

Moving Your Allies

This exercise is meant as a follow-up to the Spectrum of Allies exercise. We develop arguments and one specific request to move a given constituency one wedge over to our side. We then roleplay the interaction.

Meeting Facilitation & Better Trainings

Fishbowl: "Worst Meeting Ever . . . "

Groups can love sharing stories of their worst meetings! Here participants get to act out the worst meeting ever, and then what a good meeting looks like. It's light and playful, and a great way to get into a discussion about how to make group meetings work well.

Meeting Facilitation: The No-Magic Method

Back by popular demand, Berit Lakey's "No Magic Method": guidelines that will go a long way toward helping your group to meet both joyfully and productively.

Step In: Step Out - Using Comfort Zones

Now a kinesthetic way of getting into the concept of comfort zones: step in and step out. This tool can be placed early in a workshop as a way of concretizing the concept of comfort zones -- as a bonus, this tool is a way to both talk about comfort zones and simultaneously builds the container as people actually step outside of their comfort zones through personal self-disclosure.

Water Glasses Exercise

This activity we learned from Ouyporn Khuankeaw, a trainer in Thailand who most often works with village development workers, women leaders, monks and nuns, and NGO staff. She finds that popular education/experiential education is easier for participants to get the most out of if they understand that it is actually a different model from the prevailing teacher-centered model.

Nonviolent Action

Upside-Down Triangle: Understanding the Consent Theory of Power

By themselves, rulers cannot collect taxes, enforce repressive laws and regulations, keep trains running on time, prepare national budgets, direct traffic, manage ports, print money, repair roads, keep markets supplied with food, make steel, build rockets, train the police and army, issue postage stamps or even milk a cow. People provide these services to the ruler though a variety of organizations and institutions. If people would stop providing these skills, the ruler could not rule. - Gene Sharp, The Politics of Nonviolent Action

Quick Decisions

A classic nonviolent training tool: quick decisions. In one minute, groups are challenged to reach a decision of an action to take based on some situation. Great for action basic workshops, consensus training, and affinity group preparation.

Nonviolence Sociograms

An updated version of the commonly used "nonviolence spectrums." Use this tool to help a group looks at its diversity of opinion on issues related to nonviolence along with see unexpected commonalities and similarities.

Chair Power: Three Types of Power

Those who most benefit from oppression want to convince us that they have the power and we don't. Nonviolent activism requires understanding that -- thankfully -- all power does not reside in the government or in multinational corporate power. So here's a tool adapted from Theatre of the Oppressed that offers a new perspective on power.

Third-party Nonviolent Intervention

Review of Activities

Activists know to act. But they may not create the space to reflect. Reflection without action is impotent; but action without reflection is aimless. This tool gives participants a structured way to review “what they have been up to” – it’s a great intro to sessions on strategy, a simple tool, and a great way to catch themes carrying a group. Place this tool early in a strategy workshop to get a diagnostic read on the issues and struggles in the group.

Accompaniment Role-Plays

Looking for some role-play ideas for teaching accompaniment or intervention for unarmed bodyguards? Here are some ideas we collected for our training manual.

Gummy Bear Exercise

A major way to reduce burnout is to prepare people for the stresses, especially the stress of returning home after work away from home. This is a way to visualize issues of stress/trauma in the field and dealing with re-entry -- and with gummy bears! It is used for groups internationally, but can be adapted to most any setting where stress is a factor.

Intelligence Collection Drill

This drill teaches security skills/concepts, cultural sensitivity, information and threat analysis, and decision-making. It's an energetic tool as the team gathers information to uncover whether it's becoming a target by the government in this extended role-play.