Glass Walking and Exam Stress

by | Apr 3, 2018

Recently we were asked by our good friend Jason Devine to do some work with the Venture Scouts in Omagh. Jason was very aware that the young Ventures would soon be studying for exams and he wanted to help them. He asked us to work with them to help prepare for the inevitable exam stress they would soon get to know. He wanted the young people to feel empowered and grounded. We knew straight away that Glass Walking would be the perfect activity to better equip the young people for exam stress.

Now, you might be wondering, how on earth can Glass Walking help young prepare for exams and the stress that comes with them. Well, you might be surprised to know, it’s not the Glass Walking per se. Glass Walking, like most of the activities and experiences we offer, is the tool. It’s the learning that comes from these activities that is usually most important.

Glass Walking is underrated

People often think that they need to Firewalk, or should Firewalk, for maximum learning. It’s the big one. Flames and heat and often high energy. Firewalking comes with all the bells and whistles and Glass Walking is the quiet, shy cousin that stands in the corner. Glass Walking is often perceived as the underdog.

But there is a side to Glass Walking that is often overlooked. Especially when it comes to using it as a tool for personal development, learning and professional development.

So, how did we use Glass Walking for Exam Stress?

When we work with any group of people, we always have key ideas that we want to explore with the participants. These ideas of course, are aligned to the learning outcomes they wish to achieve. That said, we also fully respect the thought that “everyone knows something that you don’t”. This is one of the pillars of our guiding principles, when working with people. It keeps us grounded, humble and open for learning. Indeed, it would be a sad day when we did not learn something new from someone we are working with.

But having a framework of ideas and learning is very important, especially when there are outcomes to be achieved. On this occasion we wanted to explore the following with the young people:

  • Awareness
  • Fears
  • Procrastination
  • Multi-tasking

And now I will take you through how we did that.

An amazingly profound experience that had a deeply positive impact on us all. A brilliant learning activity for our young members and adults alike.
Jason Devine, Omagh Scouts


When we work with any group of people, 9 times out of 10, we will begin with engagement. We need to make sure that the participants are engaged with us and we are in rapport with them. Otherwise, anything that follows simply won’t work.

On this occasion we began by talking with the young people about why we were there and what was hoped to come out of the few hours together.

The Glass Walk and Awareness

We stopped to check-in with the participants throughout the 2 hours we were with them. During these check-ins the opening question was usually to ask them individually, how they were feeling. We felt this was important as many young people don’t get to talk about how they are feeling. Or they choose not to talk about how they are feeling, for whatever reason (and there are too many to explore right now).

By creating a safe, open space from the outset, this was a very natural part of the process and one in which they all engaged.

Glass Walking and Fears

Glass Walking and Fears go hand in hand. Of course, the prospect of walking on broken glass does not cause fear with everyone. Although, in my experience, even those who are excited about the prospect of Glass Walking, usually have some level of nervousness, even if it is drowned in excitement.

But what do fears have to do with helping young people prepare for exams. Well, for a lot of young people, there are fears of failing their exams, or not getting the results they need to move on to the next stage in life. For others, the very thought of exams can be terrifying.

We were able to take them through a process that showed people feel fears at various levels and that is ok. That having an awareness of our fears, to acknowledge and accept them is a good thing. Because in doing so, we can free ourselves from those fears.

Glass Walking and Procrastination

The conversations about feelings, awareness, and fears naturally at some stage bring up the topic of procrastination. And when it did, we were able to discuss how we deal with things we are afraid of and how we deal with things that we know we will do, but don’t want to do them just yet.

It’s a great opportunity to discuss Brian Tracy’s concept, “eat the frog”.

Glass Walking and Multi-tasking

Another natural conversation point that can come from Glass Walking is Multi-tasking. The young people got an opportunity to see how easy something can be when they are focused on it. Of course, this opened all sort of discussions around making space for studying – putting away their phone, turning off notifications, etc.

Was it useful?

The feedback we received from the Scout Leaders was fantastic. So much so, they are planning a Charity Firewalk this June. As for the young people, well, a lot of them certainly stepped right out of the comfort zones and a lot of what they were saying showed the pennies were dropping.

As for us, we certainly enjoyed the discussions with the young people and loved to see them embracing this fairly alternative night. We wish them every success with their studies and are quietly confident that they are readier for any exam stress. Thanks for having us!

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