Community Project: Rainbows

I have been volunteering with a Rainbow unit in Ayr since the start of the term. Before that I have volunteered with a Rainbow unit and a Guide unit in Livingston and have been involved in Girlguiding since I was five years old. Rainbows are the first section in Girlguiding. It is for girls aged …

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I have been volunteering with a Rainbow unit in Ayr since the start of the term. Before that I have volunteered with a Rainbow unit and a
Guide unit in Livingston and have been involved in Girlguiding since I was five years old.

Rainbows are the first section in Girlguiding. It is for girls aged five to seven. They take part in different activities, trips and overnight adventures all based around the Girlguiding program and our promise:

“I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the Guide law.”

This is simplified for the Rainbows to:

“I promise that I will do my best to think about my beliefs and to be kind and helpful.”

(Girlguiding, 2019)

The most surprising thing I found at this unit was how big it was. The unit has been split into two and has up to 20 girls in each sections. The sections run back to back so we can have up to 40 girls in a night. We run this with two leaders and two young leaders. This also presents several challenges as we have a very small space in which to work and controlling girls who like to run around screaming can be very challenging. We try to overcome this by working with the girls in small groups when doing the activities.

Another challenge I have faced is learning about the new program that has been implemented in Girlguiding. I took a year out from Guiding when I came to university so did not receive any training for the new program, therefore I am having to learn how the program works and the new way in which the girls are earning badges and awards.

Despite these challenges I absolutely love working with the girls. It is one of the reasons I decided to become a primary teacher. I love being able to work with them and teach them new skills. To be able to see girls walk out with a smile on their faces that they didn’t come in with is really amazing to see.

The girls all come from different schools and different backgrounds but they all come together once a week to  work and play together. In doing this they are able to create their own community within Rainbows. Rainbows also take part in wider community events. Recently the rainbows took part in the Remembrance day service at the church we meet in. Rainbow units could also look after community flower or vegetable plots, help with toy appeals or visit care homes.

Girlguiding within itself is a community made up of “50,000 young members” and “11,500” volunteers in Scotland alone (Girlguiding Scotland, n.d.). This, however, is just one country if we look at our worldwide community – who all come together under the name of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) – we have 150 countries and 10 million members all over the globe ( World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, n.d. and Girlguiding Scotland, n.d.). This is something that I find amazing that 10 million girls and women can be connected by one single organisation which has commons goals and outlooks. Being part of girlguiding has allowed me to meet and become friends with people from across the country and around the world. It is through this community that I was able to start up with another Rainbow unit in another town.

Within Rainbows I have been able to build my confidence when controlling a group of children. I have also developed my communication skills with parents, children and with other volunteers. These are essential skills in teaching as communication and control are paramount in the classroom. I’ve also been able to develop my confidence in being able to keep this age group focussed on tasks – another thing that is vital in the classroom. As I continue to volunteer I feel that my skills in communicating and engaging children will improve. I also feel that I will be able to transfer the experiences of learning through play from Rainbows into the classroom.

Many of the activities that are in the Rainbow program have to be adapted to suit the venue, resources and the type of girls we have. This would be similar to the differentiation that has to be done in a classroom. This sometimes has to be done very quickly with no prior planning because of changing circumstances. This skill will help in my development as a teacher in a ever changing environment.

Volunteering with the Rainbows links with Sustainable Development through the badges that focus on looking after the planet and looking after the community. Girlguiding’s (2019) “#PlasticPromise” that is a pledge to reduce single-use plastic.

Rainbows also links to Interprofessional Working because as a Rainbow leader I need to work with other leaders and young leaders, district commissioners, county commissioners, parents, other organisations and the church minister. This requires good communication skills and the ability to work well as a team.

 

References

Girlguiding (2019) Girlguiding launches #PlasticPromise, the biggest ever girl-led campaign to tackle plastic pollution [Online] Available: https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/what-we-do/our-stories-and-news/news/girlguiding-launches-plastic-promise/ [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Girlguiding (2019) The Promise [Online] Available: https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/about-us/what-makes-guiding-special/the-promise/ [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Girlguiding Scotland (n.d.) Facts and Figures [Online] Available: http://www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/what-we-say/press-and-media/facts-and-figures/ [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Girlguiding Scotland (n.d.) Rainbows (age 5 – 7) [Online] Available: http://www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/who-we-are/what-girls-can-do/rainbows/ [Accessed 25 November 2019]

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (n.d.) Membership [Online] Available: https://www.wagggs.org/en/about-us/membership/ [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Placement experience

2 weeks ago, I nervously walked into school for my first teaching placement. Little did I know this would be the quickest and most valuable 2 weeks. I got to work with a lovely primary 3 class. Who helps me … Continue reading

2 weeks ago, I nervously walked into school for my first teaching placement. Little did I know this would be the quickest and most valuable 2 weeks. I got to work with a lovely primary 3 class. Who helps me learn and also gave me some lovely pieces of art to take home, who knew I had such a red face. Most of all through this placement I learnt areas of strength in my communication, some that I didn’t even realise and also made clear to me areas I can develop upon.

I got to work with groups closely and was able to identify key communication skills to interact with the children. But also the communication skills I could apply throughout with other teachers. This experience was valuable to me in the way I could see the teachers use their interactions to help benefit the children’s learning. As I observed and interacted I was able to realise the skills I needed to use to aid me in becoming a strong communicator within my teaching role.

Strengths

An area of strength I quickly became aware of my communication skills I used to interact with small groups, during a maths lesson. I was able to assist 2 groups at a time and have the ability to apply the appropriate amount of help to the children, looking at the different problems they required assistance with. I found I could use my initiative to go over to the groups and use effective and clear communication. I spoke at an adequate volume and used language that was appropriate for the stage of the children. Within this area, my body language was used in a positive stance and using eye contact to be able to also communicate my non-verbal communications to the children. During this maths time with the groups I found I could effectively use ‘thinking time’ to be able to help the children come to the answer themselves. I was there to support and make use of the strategies to lead them to an answer. I was able to apply this help through listening to the teachers exposition on the learning intentions for the children that day.

Areas of most progress

Areas I felt I quickly adapted to and made progress with was my interactions with individual children. I feel I learnt quickly to look at the values the children held as a school: Kind, resilient, respectful, confident and included. Through this placement, I learnt to use appropriate language and praise to effectively communicate and make the children feel valued. I used this to acknowledge the children’s efforts and also to promote positive behaviours. My positive choice of words such as ‘well done’ or giving them a simple ‘good job,’ helped them feel accomplished and respected. I also found I was strong in using enthusiasm, during free play time, to value the children’s confidence and respect their efforts. They would show me their creations and I would interact with them and making sure I was giving them the appropriate attention.

 

 

 

Areas requiring progress

My confidence is always a main struggle of mine. I find I sometimes don’t have strong communication with other adults. Lacking the confidence to ask questions or speak up on my ideas. This is an area I felt I got a bit better with on placement, but still the area of my communication that needs the most work. I find it easier communicating to the children but there is always still the nagging doubt if I am communicating the strategy correctly, or if the language choice appropriate to the stage. I know this will come over time and it will improve with practice and experiences. I try to get involved as much as possible but I feel that on occasions my confidence holds me back.

Action plan

My next steps I need to look at include, communicating to the class and creating my own lessons. This will help me look at the language I need to use and making sure my body language is positive to the whole class not just small groups or individuals. I need to also build on my group work and communication to my adult peers. From teachers to parents alike. Being able to ask questions on things I am unsure of but also sharing my own ideas. I know that group work within university will help with this but also my daily life at work or on my placements over the next few years.

Communication in Other Environments

Group and leadership There wasn’t just one leader, we split into rough pairs and took different parts of the shelter each. Everybody contributed to a part of the den. When someone came up with an idea it was discussed with other members of the group and, if it was decided it was an idea we …

Continue reading “Communication in Other Environments”

Group and leadership

There wasn’t just one leader, we split into rough pairs and took different parts of the shelter each. Everybody contributed to a part of the den. When someone came up with an idea it was discussed with other members of the group and, if it was decided it was an idea we would use, that person would take control of doing that section and making it work. For the most part this worked well for our group. However, at times people were overshadowed by other peoples ideas or were not heard because of all of us talking at once. At these times, someone would step up and say something letting everyone get their ideas and thoughts heard. I think, looking back on the day, the hardest part was communicating exactly what everyone was doing. As there wasn’t an overall leader it was sometimes difficult to understand what everyone was trying to achieve and who was trying to achieve the other challenges we were given. Overall, I think we functioned very well as a team.

Explaining

The group that was explaining their den were slightly unclear with their explanation of how they built it but clearly put across their overall concept of their den. They explained what their initial idea of their den was and then went onto add some imaginary aspects (underground levels). Their explanation of their den was clear because they were able to “simplify [their] complex idea” Hargie, O. (2011)¹ and put across clearly and concisely what they had been thinking and discussing. However, their explanation of how they built it was unclear. This was mainly due to us running out of time there for it was rushed and not completed. Overall, this means that the planning of both groups was not very good because we allowed time to run away from us, but the presentation was good and all other steps that were needed to explain their ideas to us were done.

Environment

The physical environment didn’t impact  that much on our communication, but I could see that if we had different weather (i.e strong winds, rain or snow) then our communication could have been hindered. The main changes I noticed in the way I communicated in an outdoor environment instead of in the classroom was the way I tended to demonstrate things more rather than just explaining how I was going to do it. I also noticed that I tended to speak quieter and made more eye contact. I think the reason I spoke quieter was that I was more aware of the fact that I was only speaking to a small group rather than a whole class. It was not that difficult to communicate above any natural sounds because it was a rather quiet spot. However, if there was more people around, more wildlife or more sounds from the wind or rain then there might have been some difficult in communicating. To ease any difficulty the speaker and the listener would have to maintain good eye contact, make sure they were standing fairly close to each other and make sure they are able to hear each other as they talk. The environment didn’t distract me that much but I can see how it would distract other people as it is a very beautiful location. Primary children, in particular, could become very distracted in an environment like this. In order to avoid distraction I would allow time at the start of the session to allow them to explore and then get them to settle down for the task we were out their for.

Negotiation

The negotiation we were tasked with was to get someone to come and help us for five minutes, for free. This did not work very well. We were able to get someone to help for a short amount of time (less than one minute) but were not able to get anyone to help for a longer period of time. This was because of the fact that we were not offering anything in return, it was also partly due to the fact that the people that we asked we joking around and did not want us to complete our task. It was very difficult to try and negotiate with someone for their time when you were not offering anything in return. Most people will not do a task for nothing. I think this is something you have to keep in mind when working with anyone, especially children. You have to be willing to have a give and take relationship and be able to negotiate with children. There will be times when you have to be firm and not be able to negotiate but there will be times when you have to be able to have an open discussion and negotiation with children.

 

The communication, explanation and negotiation skills I have learned through this are ones that are essential in classrooms, indoors and outdoors. Without these skills classrooms would not be successful environments and it would be harder to function in classrooms where these skills are not being implemented by teachers and students alike.

 


1 – Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication. 5th Edition. London:        Routlege

Communicating in Other Environments – A Reflective Journal

During our outdoor learning session, our section was split into four teams given the task to create a fort that can stand by itself, has at least three sides and can have everyone in the group sit inside. Group and … Continue reading

During our outdoor learning session, our section was split into four teams given the task to create a fort that can stand by itself, has at least three sides and can have everyone in the group sit inside.

Group and Leadership

When completing our task, I found that I emerged as one of the natural leaders of the group. We did not formally choose our leaders I believe I was at the forefront of delegating and making sure everyone was able to speak. I was actively trying to include every member of the group in both saying ideas and physically making our fort “Casa De Tipi”. Looking back on the day the most challenging thing was physically getting started. Our group overcame this by voicing as many ideas as we could and filtering down from there until one of the group members said the design of a tipi, which would fit all the criteria of the task. Then we were able to start and build from there.

Explaining

I, unfortunately, was looking after our fort while the rest of my team was getting the explanation of the building of someone else’s fort. So instead I will reflect on how I explained our fort to another group. I explained how we constructed our fort from concept to final product. I added an entertaining flair to it to keep it from feeling purely fact-based; however, I could’ve been more thorough in explaining our preplanning because the other team had to probe to find out how we got started. Other than that I felt I was articulate and spoke well, being sure to keep my tone pleasant and intonation varied to keep my listeners engaged, thus making myself clear.

Environment

Although the physical environment didn’t impact our team’s ability to communicate, I do understand we were lucky with the weather we had. Had there been strong wind or rain I could see where issues of miscommunication could happen. In the future, I’ll be able to use the skills I learned from my classmates. The main change to how I will communicate in an outdoor environment is being physical. I noticed as we were sharing ideas members of my team would physically show what they were meaning as well as saying the idea, this aided in cementing what a group member meant. Looking at this specific idea and expanding the concept further, had the weather impacted how our team was able to communicate I would be sure to use non-verbal communication to its fullest. Making use of gesture and proximity, making sure to be an adequate distance from the group and putting more physicality than usual to convey ideas more explicitly. As a listener, I would be sure to engage actively with whoever is speaking. In an outdoor environment this, for me, would mean being near the speaker. Also, I would be sure to maintain decent eye contact with the speaker to ensure I catch as much information as I can. In this particular exercise, I didn’t notice any distraction for myself but could see the environment distracting others as it was a picturesque part of the university grounds. Although taking a minute to enjoy the surroundings isn’t a bad thing and we should appreciate nature, I can understand if this was with a group of primary children finding that balance of appreciation before it becomes a distraction a tough challenge. To overcome this, I would be sure always to be iterating to the learners what they should be doing and avoid mentioning things they shouldn’t be, so it’s not an even an idea to them.

Negotiation

During the task, our team had to negotiate to acquire something from another team that seemed essential to the structure of their fort. We were successful but had difficulty with this acquisition. The main obstacle was that most teams had an emotional attachment to their creations and thus were less than keen on parting with anything, nevermind something essential to the structure. I took the lead on negotiations as I felt I could be the most persuasive. Another team was scoping out the others and asked if they could have something from us. I was using a classic business negotiation tactic of “If I do this will you do that?” this structure keeps control with me but lets the other party think they’ve had input in the agreement. In the end, we were able to acquire the block in question for our cardboard walkway, in my opinion, a worthwhile trade. The success of our negotiation was down to having receptive other parties willing to listen and counter-negotiate, had they not been willing to do either we would’ve very likely failed.

Reflections

To summarise this experience was eye-opening and a great way to entice engagement from my peers and I. I plan to take aspects of this, active listening, interpersonal communication, negotiation, and general outdoor learning and try to incorporate these into a classroom environment when I am delivering the curriculum.

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Week 1 – Forward Thinking

Having a think about our 2 week placement, I started to consider classroom organisation and management. During my placement in a primary 3 classroom I noticed all the different ways the teacher went about using communication to get the class attention. There were many verbal methods used such as the teacher saying “macaroni cheese” and … Continue reading Week 1 – Forward Thinking

Having a think about our 2 week placement, I started to consider classroom organisation and management. During my placement in a primary 3 classroom I noticed all the different ways the teacher went about using communication to get the class attention. There were many verbal methods used such as the teacher saying “macaroni cheese” and the pupils saying back “everybody freeze.” This was a good way to get the pupils attention without shouting and also making it fun for them by letting them get involved. I also noticed that non-verbal communication methods were also used such as clapping sequences. This was effective as the pupils had to listen to repeat back the sequence so it got their attention instantly. I enjoyed this experience as I was able to learn tips from a professional who has experience on what works well and what doesn’t within the classroom.