In the last two months, I learned a fair amount about leadership from leading classes with students and projects with volunteers. There are three lessons that appeared most pertinent along the way:
Seek out advisement
Seek out advisement. One of the first things that became clear in leading part of the summer wellness camp was that I didn’t know all that I needed to when it came to teaching 4-8-year-olds lessons about the body and physical activity. Before the camp started I was trained to some degree, but not everything I was going to experience could be covered in an orientation. I struggled with getting kids to listen and being interested once they were listening. After only half a day of this, I knew I needed to learn more efficient ways of getting the kids excited and engaged. I spoke to the other camp counselor who worked the other half of the week; I got ideas from the high school students who were assisting me, and I looked into techniques online. I had several options on how I could disseminate the information and what games to use.
Be assertive. Whether I was speaking to the kids or volunteers, I found that being assertive with my instructions made the participants more willing to follow my directions. When I was hesitant, they were skeptical and resistant. The group would weary of me and what I was telling them to do. Once I caught on to this, I found that things ran more smoothly if I did all the speculating internally (no “well… hmmm let me think about that…” or “I’m not sure…”), and I spoke any questionable ideas with confidence. I learned this lesson during the kid’s camp as well. Since I get nervous in new settings with strangers, I learned this lesson quick but had to relearn it and be vigilant of myself slipping into a very passive character while leading groups.
Always provide options. Yes, of course, people love options. That’s obvious. Yet, I found that it’s especially important when attempting to get a large group of people to complete a task (or various tasks). Whether adults or children, people want agency. I learned it first during my time spent at the kid’s camp. I would want to teach them a lesson through games outlined in my lesson plans, but they would drag their feet. But, if I threw in a few of their own personal games (workshopped them a bit too), then it was smooth sailing from there. With the adult volunteers, to my surprise, they were no different. Several options were always made available for volunteers (like the stations my boss and I were setting up in the photo above) and an issue never remained an issue for long. Yes, we can’t always give people what they want. Yet, as leaders, we should be willing to compromise.