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.
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.
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.
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.
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.