Introduction: Activity for 8-40 students and/or adults
Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…
- Simulate the challenges of planning a project
- Have a group examine how they function under pressure
Time: 40 minutes
Materials: Long rope
Space: Outdoors, with some variation in terrain
Considerations: This activity has the potential to cause great strife within a group as it involves functioning—or, more accurately, dysfunctional, under both pressure and physical strain. You will want to debrief the activity carefully if strife is evident. Also be prepared for possible anger directed at you as a facilitator. With all that said, this activity is an excellent metaphor for how a project comes together and the difficulties encountered.
- Explain to the group that this activity involves screeching together in tight quarters. Anyone who feels uncomfortable participating (due to claustrophobia, twisted ankle, whatever) can coach from the sidelines.
- Ask the group to stand in a circle. Tell participants to take a big step forward, then another, then another. Keep ding this until there is no circle. Instead, you should have one big mass of loosely packed people.
- Take the rope and wrap it around the group. Make sure ahead of time that the rope is cleared of tangles and will wrap without you having to clear it.
- Pace out for them (briskly walk through, explaining as you go) a short but mildly challenging course that should involve at least having to navigate a couple steps or a one-to-two foot wall, going around a tree or bush and maybe under a pole, all depending on the terrain you have to work with.
- Explain that their task is two-part: To travel through the course while finding out something new about a person they are standing near. Any questions? Ready? Go!
- Pay attention to what they do and how they do it. What kinds of roles do people take on? What sort of conflict arises? What attitudes and emotions are surfacing?
- When the group is finished, let them celebrate their success (or anger, or frustration), then debrief?
- How did it go? What happened? What was it like? [ask for reactions from people in the front, middle, back]?
- How did people feel? [Again, ask for reactions from the front, middle, and back.]
- What worked? What didn’t work?
NOTE: Call any specific behaviors to attention and ask what was going on.
- Did you have a plan? Was everyone included in the plan?
- How many people were able to find out something new about someone near them?
- At this point you should have received enough input form the group to make a couple points. Generally, the people in the front of the group just take off and then get frustrated because the people behind the aren’t moving fast enough. The people tin the middle will notice the people in the front are going and decide that they had better start moving, too (although they aren’t really sure what’s going on). Meanwhile, the people in the back have the rope digging into them and are calling for people to slow down (calls which usually go unheeded). Ask if anyone has had the experience of being in a group where they were in the “back or in the “middle.” What’s it like? Also. If not many people were able to find out something new about someone near the, ask why. Often a group will lose track of part of what it se out to do when things start getting crazy.The dynamics of this activity are rich. Make sure you have enough time to debrief and use whatever happens in the group to shape the questions you ask.
- What would you do differently if you were to do this again?Usually people will say, “plan!” Make the point that in a group that’s often the first thing to be avoided. Ask them to think about how they will make sure that people in the “front” hear what people in the ‘back” are saying. Remind them that participation of the whole group is needed. Keeping this activity in mind, how can they ensure their whole group is involved as they work together?
- Facilitator Notes and Requirements
- Intro to Student/Adult Partnerships
- Intro to Student Voice
- Readiness for Student/Adult Partnerships
- Bias Against Students
- Being Students
- Understanding Who You Are
- Language in Schools
- Learning to Listen
- Feedback Techniques
- Jargon in Schools
- Power, Trust, and Respect
- Ground Rules
- Group Strengths and Weaknesses
- Trust Circle
- Action Planning
- Problem Solving
- Staying Solutions-Focused
- Letting Go & Taking Charge
- Ideal Partners
- Creating Roles for Students and Adults
All this and more is covered in the time-tested, student-approved SoundOut Workshop Guide for Student/Adult Partnerships!
- Student/Adult Partnerships
- Adults as Barriers to Meaningful Student Involvement
- Adult Learning through Meaningful Student Involvement