The U-Flow

There are many educational tools, but tools do not work on their own. They need to be applied. And depending on how they are put into practice or combined with each other, they will have some effects or others.
A selection of tools ready to be applied constitutes a session. To choose and combine activities, in addition to taking into account people’s needs, the work context, the goals, and your personal abilities and intentions, you need to mind the group energy and emotional flow.
Paying or not paying attention to these apparently invisible elements can make a big difference. Sometimes very simple activities can work and apparently very appropriate activities derail, because tools don’t work on their own: they have to be applied.

We suggest a natural human flow which is based on politeness and on promoting active participation through experiential learning.
Taking inspiration from Otto Scharmer’s theory, we visualize it as a U that starts on one side (Welcome and Introduction), moves down to the bottom (Core, Debriefing and Emergence) and ends on the other side of the U (Closing and Evaluation).
We are allowed to stop more or less in some part or another of the itinerary and make all the needed adaptations. We are free, but we strongly advise to plan in advance and to take into account the different elements of the invisible structure.


The first phase is WELCOME

This phase is meant to welcome the participants into the physical or virtual space they will engage during the session. In particular it aims to: 

  • officially welcome the hosts 
  • explain the program of the day 
  • give practical information regarding the project and its venue
  • present the team who is going to run the session
  • clarify any doubts

To successfully start the session it’s important to encourage the participants and to give all the necessary information, not all of it because of the risk of overwhelming the participants with too much infos.

In case of an online session this will be the right time to give some tips on how to use the video call platform and which are the rules to respect (e.g. close the microphone while not speaking, turn on the camera if possible, …).

Examples of WELCOME activities: 

➢ Name-game

➢ Icebreaker

➢ Warm up


Next step is INTRODUCTION: an invitation to BE PRESENT. The introduction aims to connect (strengthen the participants bond) with oneself, the group, or a topic and invite them to be present in the moment by focusing, relaxing, and expressing oneself freely.

This phase helps the participants to really dive into the activity with body and mind. 

It also meant to help participants to get more comfortable working inside the group dynamics and avoid eventual distractions.

Examples of introductory activities:

➢   Check-in

➢ Energizer

➢ Getting to know each other


Next step is CORE and is meant to deal with the main topic/objective that has brought the people together in the session. This topic/objective, that constitutes the more specific and thematic content of the session, can be faced with a step by step activity or a set of different tools combined together. 

Examples of CORE activities:

➢   Role plays (roles are given to the participants; they discuss or play a simulation according to the roles and then debrief)

➢ Discussions & debates

➢ Workshops

➢   Any kind of experience that you can debrief on (study visits, arts, …)

The core step is usually the activity format most common in different notorious manuals. Our favorite manuals, from which most of the activities cards were selected and are aligned with the JAMMIN mission, are:


Next step is DEBRIEFING: the reflection, after all the experiences, that brings the learning. Citing the Minosian Labyrinth (an educational toolkit), the Debriefing is “that phase that ensures the learning outcomes of an activity are actually transferred to the participants. During the debriefing participants make connections, get insights and develop a clear understanding of their learning process. Without debriefing the experience would happen much less or not at all. The debriefing phase is therefore an important part, if not the most important”.

The debriefing is not about right or wrong statements, because every idea or emotion expressed by the participants are valuable and should not be judged.

You can debrief everything (music, activities, film, visits, …). In most of the activity cards you will find some guiding questions regarding the specific activity, but you can design your own debriefing by following these steps that give a short overview of the points which any debriefing activity should cover:

1) First impressions

How do I feel now (a quick round immediately after the experience)

  • 2) Facts 

Observe what happened without any interpretations 

  • 3) Emotions 

Express feelings, sensations, intuitions

  • 4) Ideas 

Thoughts, interpretations and opinions

  • 5) Learning

What can we take out of this, how to apply this experience in life

These steps can be seen as a guideline. Nevertheless, you can always adapt the questions to each exercise and prepare a set of questions for each step (feelings, process, patterns, links to reality, learning).


The next step is EMERGENCE: consciously recognize the results of learning and the discoveries made, highlighting the final messages that can lead to follow-up proposals and apply the learning.

In particular the emergence phase intends to:

-Report the learning (through video, written report, …)

-Highlight the main concepts

-Catch up the essentials

-Reinforce the messages

-Clarify remaining doubt

-Plan further steps & follow-up

Examples of EMERGENCE activities:

➢   Wrap-up 

➢   Point-maker 

➢   Personal/group reflection


The next step is CLOSING: an emotional recapitulation of the session followed by a final farewell. It consists in closing the learning cycle and expressing gratitude for presence and contributions.

A final round of interventions made by the participants can be done by sharing:

– “What I take from today is…”

– “A wish…”

– “I learned…”

– “I commit myself to…”

– “I make a toast for…”

– “Now I feel…”


The final phase is evalutation: review the whole process under the light of results. 

Its function can be for learning purposes (good practices, revision, …) as well as for reporting.

If you want to learn more about EVALUATION check this out.