Both to break up the learning and to add opportunities for participants to process and integrate the material, it will be important to scatter activities and group work throughout the training. Feel free to pull some ideas from your toolbox of learning activities. We are listing a few broader ideas here for you to use as well.

Collaborative Learning: Group Work

When engaging the participants in small group work, as a general rule we recommend groups of three or more people. We believe this is a more trauma-informed approach, because people are less put on the spot in a group of three. If someone is having a rough day, then they have the freedom to take on more of an observer role. In a group of two, each member is expected  to participate fully even if they are triggered or uncomfortable by a topic.

Life Application Stories

Several of the modules include Life Application Stories. You can feel free to create scenarios for the modules that don’t have them. Each of the stories have reflection questions that follow and can be used for good group discussion.

  • Break people into groups of three or four
  • Ask them to take turns reading the story
  • Have them dialogue about the reflection questions and develop responses
  • Bring people back to the larger group, and ask them to summarize what they came up with in the larger group

For Reflection Sections of the Curriculum

There are “For Reflection” questions scattered throughout the curriculum. You can utilize the questions as dialogue topics within the larger group, or break people into small groups and have them discuss and report back.

Have Participants Teach Sections of the Curriculum

Adults tend to learn at a deeper level when they have to teach or present the material to others. It’s not so easy to check out and think about weekend plans when we know we have to get up in front of the group and share the material ourselves!

  • Break people into small groups of three or four
  • Assign a different section of the curriculum to each group
  • Give them time (20-40 minutes depending on the amount of material they have to present) to learn the content
  • Have learning tools handy, like markers and easel paper
  • Ask the small groups to figure out how to present/teach the material to the larger group-they can present using the manual, write things out on easel paper, or they can utilize group dialogue
  • Be clear with the instructions, as this can be confusing if not communicated well
  • Give the group clear direction around timeframes: how much time they have to learn and prep for the presentation, and how much time they will have to present their topic to the larger group

Role-Plays & Simulations

Though most people dislike role-plays, they are actually a really powerful way to learn and apply new material. The word role-play doesn’t mean that participants have to act, or pretend. You can ask them to be themselves and use real life examples and situations in their role-plays, as it will be a more powerful experience for them.

If you have enough time, you could spend some time developing simulations or role-plays for each module to help demonstrate or unpack some main ideas. Here are a few ideas of potential role-plays:

Creating the Ecology of Self-Determination: 

  • A peer support volunteer/worker is asked for advice by someone they are supporting. They get to practice avoiding advice-giving, and instead support the person to find the answers within.


In this module we give several examples of potential boundary issues that could come up in post-secondary peer support. Here are some potential role-plays from that module:

  • You have told your peer that you will only respond to text messages about scheduling, but they keep texting you long messages about things happening in their life – how do you respond?
  • You have told your peer that you do not want to talk about mental health outside of your appointment times, but the peer keeps bringing it up during a class that you have together – what do you do?
  • You work in a drop-in peer support role and the program does not want peer workers to give out any personal contact information to students seeking support. But one student keeps returning when you are on shift and shares how much they like talking to you, and keeps asking if they can have your phone number to contact you at other times. You’ve told them the program won’t allow this, but they keep asking – what should you do?
  • You have a lot in common with a peer that you are working with, and you get along very well. You know that your support relationship will come to an end with this person soon, and you wonder if the two of you could stay friends – what should you do?


Give people time at the end of each session to reflect on what they learned that day, what they still want to work on, as well as any topics or activities that challenged their beliefs. You can give them a journal or handouts in which to record their thoughts. Here are some sample questions that you can ask participants to reflect on:

  • What did I learn today that really resonated with me?
  • What can I do to make today’s learning stick?
  • Is there anything that came up today that caused resistance in me? Why? What can I do to continue wrestling with it?
  • Did I give the material enough of my attention? If not, why?
  • What can I do to enhance my learning?
  • What can I do to support myself as I continue to learn this material–both in class and as I work on my own?
  • What is something I appreciated about today’s session?

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