Creating your own Language- round 2

Yesterday in Leaders UNITE, the students did an activity called “Create Your Own Language,” which is all about teamwork and communication. In this activity, I gave students 10 different words (randomly selected), and the students had to create new ways of saying these words in their own made up language! The goal of this activity was to work together to create these words, and to brainstorm what kinds of things are important when communicating with one another about ideas. The students had actually done this activity before (right when they started Leaders UNITE in the fall), but we redid this activity with a bit more independence this time around- seeing how students would step up as leaders and how they would work together as a team without as much of a push from me. I was very impressed with the students’ communication during the activity! Although at first they started by only discussing with the student next to them, they soon realized that they could not come to an agreement about the words this way, since every pair of students had different ideas for their made-up language. The students then did a great job of changing the way they communicate: instead of only discussing with the person next to them, they began discussing with all of the students at the table. Once they did this, they were all able to come up with words that everyone was happy with! I was thrilled to see the students learn along the way and shift their communication strategies to create better results. They also did a great job of thinking about all of their friends to make sure that everyone was happy with the made-up language before continuing. It is such a joy to see the students conquer new challenges every week, learn more about leadership, and have fun!

Find Someone Who- Assigned Leader Style

Yesterday in Leaders UNITE, the students conducted an activity about teamwork and leadership called, “Find Someone Who.” In this activity, the students had to find at least one person in the classroom who could do each of the things written on the paper, such as find someone who can do a handstand, whistle, was born outside of North Carolina, and more. The students did this same activity near the beginning of the year to get to know their teammates a bit better, and to understand that everyone has talents that they can bring to a team. However, this time, when students did the activity, there was a little twist. For each question on the paper, I assigned a different student to be the “assigned leader”, meaning that they were the person in charge of finding out how many people could do each task on the paper. This got the students to practice being leaders, learning how to communicate with their group, and how to get the group to listen to them. The students noted that the hardest task when they were leaders of the group was getting the team members to listen, making sure they heard the question, and making sure everyone was answering the question. It was great that the students were already becoming aware of the importance of listening and proper communication, which they said were important both for the leader and for the team. Everyone did a great job being the assigned leader, and getting an accurate count of people who could do each task. We revisited the idea that everyone in a team has their own individual strengths, and it was very cool to hear about students’ talents as well!

New Year and New Goals

This week in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh the students conducted a discussion and an activity about leadership. First, we had a discussion about what it means to be a leader. We always try to have this discussion every few weeks at the beginning of our sessions to see how students’ perception of leadership has changed throughout their time in Leaders UNITE. And especially with this younger age group who had not heard much about leadership before this club, it is also very interesting to see what they have learned about what it means to be a leader. The students all gave very sophisticated responses highlighting not just the importance of “leading” but also the importance of being a team player and helping others. Students said that a leader helps their friends and peers when they are going through a difficult time, stands up for others if someone is being mean to them, checks on others if they seem lonely or upset, helps others if they are struggling with an assignment, listens to others, respects their teachers, and volunteers to assist the teacher at school. I was very impressed by the students’ understanding of the importance of listening and helping others, and their responses had definitely become even more complex than they were a few weeks ago.

Following this, the students and I talked about the importance of setting goals as a leader, and working towards specific goals as a leader and within a team. To show students how this works, we all made and decorated cards of New Years resolutions. Each student thought of one goal/resolution that they wanted to accomplish for the upcoming year, and we wrote them down on a piece of paper for them to keep. I told the students to hold on to their individual resolutions throughout the year and continue to use them to remain motivated and remind them of their goals.

Acting, teamwork, and sportsmanship in Leaders UNITE

Yesterday in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, students played a game where they had the opportunity to work on communication, teamwork, and adapting to different leaders/situations. We played a game similar to charades- where I acted out different words and students had to guess which word I was acting out. I split the students into two teams randomly, giving them the opportunity to work with new students that they might not see during their class time. I then made one person from each team the “leader”— where this person’s job was raise their hand on behalf of the group and say the answer for the team. Although one person was raising their hand on behalf of the team, the team was supposed to communicate together and help their team leaders arrive at the correct answer. Another interesting thing about the game was that I changed the team “leaders” multiple times throughout the games- so students had the opportunity to quickly adapt to different leading styles and learned how to communicate in different ways. I was pleased to see that students’ teams did significantly better when the whole team was helping the team leader arrive at the correct answer, and that students got better and better at working together as the game progressed. We also spoke in depth about sportsmanship, teaching the students that we should be happy for the other team when they get points, instead of becoming upset. We also spoke about perseverance, where students learned that even if their team is losing, it is important to keep trying and stay motivated as a team. The students had lots of fun with the game- which actually ended in a tie by the end of the session! Finally, students had a brief discussion about leadership and teamwork, and how these both manifested themselves in this game. Way to go IPR!

Getting to know teammates through holiday games

In Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh before Christmas time, students participated in an activity about teamwork and leadership. We first reviewed some of the important characteristics of a leader, which students felt very comfortable addressing after discussing this topic a few weeks ago. Then, we took this a step further and talked about how a leader should treat his/her team members. Students did a great job of explaining how someone could be a leader in a team situation, such as helping their teammates if they have problems, and being supportive towards them. We then took this a step further, discussing how important it is for a leader to get to know his/her team and appreciate their values and uniqueness- not just while they are working on something together, but all of the time.
To delve into this idea in a more hands-on manner, we played a game about students’ favorite things, where students got to learn more about their other teammates in a fun way. This game had to do with Christmas, where students first had to whispered to me what they wanted for Christmas. I then wrote down what everyone wanted for Christmas on individual pieces of paper and shuffled the cards in the middle. One by one, students picked up a random piece of paper and had to guess which person wanted which Christmas gift. If they could not guess the correct person after three turns, then we would tell them who wrote that particular Christmas gift. After each person’s Christmas gift was revealed, I asked the student to say why he/she wanted that particular gift for Christmas. I then asked the other students what they learned about this student by learning about what they wanted for Christmas.
This worked out great, and students got to learn more about their teammates through this activity. For example, one student wanted a suitcase for Christmas. After a bit of discussion, some of her classmates learned that this student likes to travel, has family she would like to visit in India, and has always wanted to visit this country. Students also learned about some things they had in common with their teammates, which was another important topic we highlighted in our discussion: even though you might seem very different from someone else in your team, you can always work to find similarities or similar interests between yourself and others.
Finally, I asked students what they would buy from other people in their class for Christmas if they could actually buy them a gift. I was so happy to see that the student who wrote “makeup” wanted to buy makeup for her friends who mentioned, “Woah cool- I want makeup too!” during our game. It was really great to see students learning new information about their friends and taking the time to truly value their teammates interests, experiences, and similarities through this activity.