Equal opportunities, placements and synergy

Presenting youth work plans

Equal opportunities

In the morning the participants set out to explore equal opportunities and the differences between people. They began with an exercise designed to highlight the differences between people in the group. Buzz asked the group to form a circle and each person in turn was asked to step forward and say something unique about themselves (eg. I am the only member of the Green Party.) If anyone else in the group matched with the statement they also had to step forward and the person had to try and think of something else unique about themselves.

What do we need to know and why
What do we need to know and why

Next they were asked to consider what they needed and wanted to know about different people in their lives. Buzz divided these into four categories; young people, colleagues, friends and personal interests. Working in their mentor groups they thought about whether they needed to know things like age, relationship status, religious beliefs and sexual orientation. The participants then came back together to discuss what they had found. Some people felt they needed to know lots of things about some groups and less about others.

Heterosexual roleplay
Heterosexual roleplay

Finally Buzz did a roleplay with Gemma around sexual orientation. He asked Gemma a series of personal questions that are often asked of gay people but reversed it so they were aimed heterosexuals. Some of the questions were things like…

  • What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
  • Do you think your heterosexuality is a phase?
  • How do you know you are heterosexual if you haven’t been with someone of the opposite gender?
  • When and where did you decide that you were heterosexual?
Discussing equal opportunities
Discussing equal opportunities

At the end of the roleplay the group discussed things to think about when asking questions of young people. For example asking a female young person if they have a boyfriend is an assumption that they are heterosexual. A more natural question might be “are you in a relationship?”

Placements

Before lunch the participants were asked to think about their placements once again. ?? asked the group how they secured their placements. Some of them said that they had been in the right place at the right time to arrange them or that there was luck involved. Steve pointed out to the group that they had probably used some of Covey’s habits, such as being proactive, in order to arrange their placement.

Presenting youth work plans
Presenting youth work plans

The participants were asked to work in their mentor groups to imagine they were planning a two hour session in an open youth club. They had ten minutes to plan the session and then were to come back together to the larger group to present their planned activity. The participants gave feedback to each group in turn, discussing things such as unexpected complications, allowing for the differing needs of people in the group and how to fund their activity.

The exercise was designed to help prompt them to think about how their can refine their session planning using the PDCA method from earlier in the week.

A problem shared is a problem halved
A problem shared is a problem halved

Covey’s sixth habit – Synergy

After lunch the group came back together to start thinking about Covey’s sixth habit – synergy. Buzz shared with the group four sets of animals: rhino and birds, geese, ants and shark and small fish. He asked them to pick one of the sets and make the noise of that animal, after this they formed small group with the other people making their animal sounds.

Describing synergy
Describing synergy

In their groups they came up with five good things about their animal’s collaboration. Next he asked them to think about the differences between the animals – some have collaborations with their own species and some with other animals. Each team was also given a statement and prepared a description of synergy. The statements were…

  • Disagreements if treated in the right way can only bring rewards
  • Differences will always give more opportunity
  • Thinking beyond the known (gnome) will allow you to look for the new
  • Embracing different perspectives is what will bring you together
In the circle of synergy
In the circle of synergy

Speaking about synergy Covey said:

Something which underpins synergy is the strengths and benefits of difference in a group.

After creating their descriptions of synergy the group used the law of attraction to form into pairs. Buzz asked them to identify the uniqueness within their pairs and find out the differences between them. They had to find one thing that they fundamentally disagree on and to consider what the benefits are that come from their different opinions, beliefs and values.

Participation, understanding and influence

Beating the carpet

Youth participation

Ladder of participation
Ladder of participation

In the morning Cilia introduced the ladder of youth participation. In the ladder there are ten levels which all have different meanings. The levels are…

  1. Dictatorship – Young people are given no choices and participation is forced. Decisions are made by adults for and on behalf of the young people. The assumption is that adults know best and there are no opportunities or structures for young people’s views to be heard.
  2. Manipulation – Young people are not given opportunities to understand the issues being addressed are not actively involved in decision-making and merely go along with what adults require of them without being given a chance to contribute.
  3. Decoration – Adults involve young people in promoting a cause which the young people have little understanding of and have had little or no say in deciding about. The young people wear the T-shirt with slogans, perform at an event to bolster the cause and often engage in fun, ‘feel good’ factor activities. Young people are used to bolster a cause which adults think is important.
  4. Tokenism – Adults organise situations where young people seem to be given a voice but in fact have little choice about the subject and limited opportunities to develop their own opinions or make decisions. Adults set the agenda and young people are expected to fall in line.

    Steve talks participation
    Steve talks participation
  5. Assigned or informed – Adults set up the framework and processes for a project and young people volunteer to participate when they have understood the intentions of the projects know who makes the decisions and appreciate the nature of the fixed roles.
  6. Consulted and informed – A project is designed and run by adults but young people understand the processes and their opinions are sought and treated seriously. Young people are not expected to reflect adult ideas and opinions but they are encouraged to develop their own ideas and understandings are helped to make informed judgements.
  7. Adult-initiated, shared decisions with young people – Both adults and young people are involved in developing ideas, planning projects and decision-making. The experience and knowledge of young people is valued and ways are developed for adults and young people to communicate and make joint decisions. Adults are willing to hand over some control to young people and provide a secure framework, support and direction.
  8. Young person initiated and directed – Young people take the lead in organising and directing collaborative working groups, supported by adults. Young people develop the confidence and skills to take control and responsibility.

    How we move up the ladder
    How we move up the ladder
  9. Young person initiated, shared decisions with adults – Young people take a lead role in developing ideas and proposals, identifying opportunities and problems and formulating strategies for action, the process being supported by adults.
  10. Young person initiated, no adult support – Young people initiate, manage, take the lead and evaluate their own learning and actions. Young people identify their own opportunities and directions this is usually done for the benefit of the group and other young people. Adults are not involved in any part of the process.

After having the ladder introduced to them the participants split into their mentor groups and were asked to think about two examples of their own work with young people. The groups came back together and shared their examples and the other groups placed it where they thought it sat on the ladder. They had a brief discussion about why they the activity had been placed on that ladder.

The discussion concluded with a discussion about what kind of young people you would work with at the bottom of the ladder, and the aspiration to constantly be moving people up towards to the top.

An unexpected visitor
An unexpected visitor

Seek to understand first then to be understood

During the next session the participants started to introduce Covey’s sixth habit 5 ‘seek to understand first then to be understood’. Cilia started the session by introducing four listening styles to the group. These are attentive, pretending, ignoring and selective. These are all styles which are imperfect as people might be distracted, not listening or only hearing what they want to hear. In mentor groups the participants were asked to prepare a roleplay of how to change from the four typical listening styles to an empathic style where you seek to understand the other person, make helpful suggestions and show an interest.

Empathic listening
Empathic listening

Each group showed their roleplay for the other participants and there was a discussion about what had been observed. One factor which came out of the discussion was about mobile phones and how they can impact on the ways people listen. The participants felt that while mobile phones are not completely unhelpful in a group dynamic (eg: taking notes, looking up unfamiliar words etc), they can distract the person listening or the speaker so their use in sessions should be considered carefully.

The final exercise was to see ourselves as others see us. The participants were asked to think about an unresolved situation in their lives. They were asked to think about the situation from three positions; themselves, the other person involved and an impartial adviser. The participants split into pairs with each person taking one of two roles…

  • The explorer – sharing a situation from their life and being open to thinking about things from other points of view.
  • The guide – asking questions about the situation to prompt their partner (the explorer) to see the situation from other points of view. They should go through the three positions (yourself, other person and impartial adviser).

The exercise was designed to get the person to think about how they would change a situation to create a win-win for those involved.

Stepping into Leary's Rose
Stepping into Leary’s Rose

Revisiting Leary for influence

After lunch the group revisited the Rose of Leary, reminding themselves of the behaviours that it includes that they discussed in the second week.

Splitting into their mentor groups the participants were asked to think about how they can use Leary’s theory to influence people showing certain behaviours in a youth work context. They were first asked to consider a situation in an open youth club where young people were arguing about what kind of music should be playing. Half of the small groups took on the role of the youth workers and the other half the young people.

Outdoor influencing
Outdoor influencing

As they showed different kinds of behaviour in the situation they were asked to move around the rose, stepping into different triangles to show what kind of behaviour they were using. After the first situation they were asked to suggest their own to act out.

Finally the group came back together to discuss how they had found the exercise and what they had learnt about how different behaviours can be used to influence young people.

Win win, Belbin, PDCA and youth work boundaries

PDCA card game
In conversation
In conversation

On the second day the group came back together to return to Covey’s habits. Over the previous weeks the participants have explored the first three habits.

Covey’s fourth habit – win win

Covey said that there are six paradigms for human interaction which make up the fourth habit (win win). These are based on ‘games theory’. The six paradigms are…

  • Win/Win: A principle that constantly seeks for mutual benefit in all interactions.
  • Win/Lose: In youth work this is an authoritarian approach where I must get my way no matter what the cost to you.
  • Lose/Win: In a youth work context this is the kind of leader who seek strength from popularity, they are so desperate to “be friends” with the young people that they set no standards; have no vision; make no demands.
  • Lose/Lose: Often comes about when 2 Win/Lose people interact and they become so obsessed with the other person “losing” that they don’t care if they lose as well.
  • Win: Many people have this principle. They don’t care if the other people win or lose, they are not out for revenge or victory as long as they get what they want, they leave it to others to get what they want as well.
  • No Deal: This situation is what Covey calls an even higher expression of Win/Win. It basically means that if we can’t find a Win/Win there is no deal. It’s a very liberating and open principle.

Netherlands.may.day1.group-77After explaining the paradigms Steve asked the group to form two lines facing each other and gave each person two cards and a sheet to record their results. One card was marked with a C for cooperate and D for defect.

He gave them a scenario that they were a team of eco-terrorists who had been caught by the police. Before their arrest the conspirators made a solemn promise to each other that whatever happened they would not betray one another.

The police held the partners in separate cells and gave them a severe questioning. Each partner had to decide whether to keep faith and cooperate with their partner (play the C card) or defect from their agreement (play the D card). Depending on the combinations of C and D cards being played the police give out prison sentences. The participants did this in their partner pairs ten times and then ‘speed dated’ other members of the group ten times. Each person kept a score of their years in prison.

Covey proposes that as people get to know each other and build relationships they work out that their best strategy as a partnership is always to cooperate and create win win situations. This means that we expected to see less time spent in prison working in a steady partnership than with someone you don’t have a relationship with.

The trainers form the plan
The trainers form the plan

Belbin assessment

Before lunch Buzz asked the group to answer a series of questions about how they respond to different situations within a group. The questions were used to assess them against the Belbin team roles and give them an indication of which they are strongest in. Within the Belbin theory there are nine different kinds of roles, each having things they contribute and also ‘allowable weaknesses’.

The roles are and their characteristics are…

  • Plant
    Contribution: creative, imaginative, free-thinking. Generates ideas and solves difficult problems.
    Allowable weaknesses: Ignores incidentals. Too preoccupied to communicate effectively.
  • Resource Investigator
    Contribution: outgoing, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities and develops contacts.
    Allowable weaknesses: Over-optimistic. Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.
Considering your team role
Considering your team role
  • Co-ordinator
    Contribution: Mature, confident, identifies talent. Clarifies goals. Delegates effectively.
    Allowable weaknesses: Can be seen as manipulative. Offloads own share of the work.
  • Shaper
    Contribution: Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.
    Allowable weaknesses: Prone to provocation. Offends people’s feelings.
  • Monitor Evaluator
    Contribution: Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately.
    Allowable weaknesses: Lacks drive and ability to inspire others. Can be overly critical.
  • Teamworker
    Contribution: Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction.
    Allowable weaknesses: Indecisive in crunch situations. Avoids confrontation.
  • Implementer
    Contribution: Practical, reliable, efficient. Turns ideas into actions and organises the work that needs to be done.
    Allowable weaknesses: Somewhat inflexible. Slow to respond to new possibilities.
  • Completer Finisher
    Contribution: Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors. Polihes and perfects.
    Allowable weakness: Inclined to worry unduly. Reluctant to delgate.
  • Specialist
    Contribution: Single-minded, self starting and dedicated. Provides knowledge and skills in rare supply.
    Allowable weakness: Contributes only on a narrow front. Dwells on technicalities.

You can find out more about Belbin on Wikipedia here.

PDCA card game
PDCA card game

PDCA card game

The afternoon began with the participants being split into four groups of five, including different types of people based on their Belbin assessments to create the ideal team dynamic.

Four tables were set up in the centre of the room with playing cards in the middle, constituted of two packs. Each group had to divide the cards equally between themselves based on the value of them. They were not allowed to ask any questions at the beginning and did not know the total of the cards.

PDCA card game
PDCA card game

Firstly the groups were asked to attempt the task without any preparation time or discussion and nobody completed it. The second time they were given two minutes to discuss and prepare without looking at the cards and the third time they had two minutes with a pen and paper and the final time had one minute with pen and paper (plan), then they did the task in the fastest time they could (do). One minute after each attempt was given to review (check). In repeating this several times the group learnt from their previous attempts (act).

Two groups of ten were formed at the end of the process to attempt the task again in a larger group. This helped them to explore how the groups culture, methods and approach was shared when they merge. Finally Buzz explained the PDCA cycle of improvement. The cycle is a method of improvement that is linked to lean working theory. The stages are…

  • Plan – define a problem or opportunity. Analyse the situation. Study and define the problem; brainstorm for causes and corrective actions; and think creatively to determine the best approach and best possible corrective action.
  • Do – implement corrective action. Document the procedures and observations. Use data-gathering tools to collect information.
  • Check – analyse information. Monitor trends and compare obtained results against expected results from the plan.
  • Act – if the result is expected, do nothing. If the result is not expected, repeat the do, check, act cycle. Document the process and revise the plan.

Buzz shared a factsheet with the group at the end of the session which you can find here.

Debating boundaries and ethics
Debating boundaries and ethics

Boundaries and ethics

In the last session of the day the group were asked to thing about boundaries and ethics in a youth work setting. Cilia read the group a number of statements and asked them to stand on different sides of the room depending on whether they felt something was appropriate or not appropriate, something that they would do or would not.

The statements were…

  • Would you give a young person a reference?
  • If a young person is carrying a weapon, is it ok to call the police?
  • Would you support young people to run a peer led sexual health project?
  • Is it acceptable to have a relationship with a young person?

After each statement the participants debated their different points of view, giving each other an insight into their reasons.

Reforming, teams and animal leadership

The Pathways Web
The Pathways Web
The Pathways Web

The Pathways to Youth Work group have come back together in Orvelte, Netherlands, for their final week of the process. The participants from the UK and Netherlands arrived on Thursday evening and then began the training on Friday morning.

Expectation and reforming the network

The group started off getting out into Orvelte to enjoy the good weather. Steve asked the group to form a circle and think about their expectations for the week. He gave the first person the “expectation ball” They had to think of something they expect from their week together. They then passed the ball to another person in the group, following a pattern until everyone had thought about an expectation. The expectation ball was then replaced with small juggling balls and following the same pattern, the balls got thrown round the group. The group set a new “World Record” by juggling no less than 9 balls together.

Next Steve replaced the juggling balls with a ball of string which he asked the group to throw around following the same pattern as they had previously to create a web or network of string. This was a metaphor or representation of our group in Orvelte. He tried to balance the ball on top of the string web, but as there were big gaps the ball fell through. The network was weak.

Pathways Web
Pathways Web

Steve then asked the group to strengthen the network. He told them to throw the ball of string to a person who had a quality they liked, giving everyone some nice positive feedback, enhancing the string web.

Finally he asked the group to move towards the centre to make the gaps in the web smaller. This didn’t just make the web better able to support the ball but also brought the group closer to each other.

Getting S.M.A.R.T
Getting S.M.A.R.T

S.M.A.R.T Personal Objectives

Next the group headed back into the centre to begin to consider their personal objectives for the week.

Each person took four post it notes and wrote their own objective on it. They were asked to think about whether each objective was S.M.A.R.T.

Objectives which are S.M.A.R.T should be…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Celia gave the group a factsheet which explained more about setting S.M.A.R.T objectives which you can see here.

Next the group added their objectives to the week’s programme timeline created by Celia and put on the wall. This helped to indicate when people felt they would achieve a specific objective within the programme.

The participants were asked to discuss this with each other during the breaks to explore why they had set themselves particular objectives.

Learning the Lean Clean
Learning the Lean Clean

Doing the “Lean Clean”

Before lunch Buzz introduced the group to the concept of lean working. This is the idea that you work in a very efficient way to maximise value, through an ‘end to end’ pre-designed process. It is also a process which is continually refined to strive to achieve perfection.

In their mentor group the participants were asked to decide on an area of the training centre to be responsible for during this week. Each group was asked to design what they felt was the ‘lean cleaning’ process for that area, remembering to maximise efficiency and ‘cut the crap’ from the process.

Helium Sticks
Helium Sticks

Team work skills

During the afternoon Steve asked the group to take part in some exercises. First he split the participants into two groups and gave them a helium stick each. Ten participants had to stand facing each other in two lines and hold up a helium stick using only two fingers each. Steve then asked them to lower the sticks to the ground. The group found this very challenging and struggled to lower the sticks but it demonstrated to them how they need to work together as a team.

Working blindfold
Working blindfold

Next Steve asked the group to hold onto a round piece of string then put on blindfolds. He asked them to form themselves into different shapes using the string. First a square, then a circle and then a square again. The group found it challenging to achieve as when there are many voices it can be difficult to get a clear sense of what needs to be done.

Writing Pathways
Writing Pathways

Finally, the participants split into groups of fives. They were each given a marker with four pieces of string attached to it and sat round a table with a piece of flip chart on it. Each group was asked to write the word ‘pathways’. Four people from each group had to wear blindfolds and hold one of the pieces of string while the fifth person gave instructions of what they needed to do to write the word.

All of the exercises were designed to demonstrate the skills needed to work as a team. It was important to listen, be committed to the task,

Exploring the Group Development Process
Exploring the Group Development Process

Group development process

Celia went on to introduce the theory of group development, originally proposed by Tuckman in 1965. The stages are forming, storming, norming and performing and these steps are repeated in a continuous cycle.

In the forming part of the process the group are likely to be finding out about each other, learning about their opportunities and challenges. During this stage they group members are more reserved and likely to try not to upset anyone else in their group.

Questioning the Group Development Process
Questioning the Group Development Process

Next they moving to storming. At this stage there can often be personality clashes or disagreements as people feel more confident to express their opinions. Sometimes groups will not move out of this stage and will remain there and others will pass this stage completely.

The third phase is norming where the group will form social norms and understanding of each other’s roles and personality, developing tolerance and a sense of shared responsibility. In this stage there is spirit of co-operation with an awareness of competition within the group.

In the final performing stage there is a greater awareness of of common goals with all members of the group actively participating and achieving good results. The groups will be able to discuss challenges within themselves without there being disagreements. It is however, possible for groups to go back to earlier stages temporarily.

Animal Cards
Animal Cards

What is your inner animal?

The final session of the day was led by Buzz and explored the symbolism of animals when it comes to characteristics. The group were asked to look at a pack of animal power cards, each one showing an animal and a set of characteristics. Each person chose the card they thought related most to them, then in their smaller mentor groups they discussed their choices.

...but none of the group were sheep!
…but none of the group were sheep!

Next they were introduced to the animals in the Native American Leadership Animals. First they only saw the kind of animal and not the characteristics and were asked to choose the one they expected to be. The group were then given the leadership qualities of each and match them to the correct animal to see whether their choices matched with themselves. Individually they were asked to think about which one of the animals they would like to develop the characteristics of.

You can see the characteristics for each of the Native American Leadership Animals here.

Images courtesy of Christian Dyson Photography.

Behaviour, the bus stop and Leary’s Rose

Inside Leary's Rose
At the bus stop
At the bus stop

Waiting at the bus stop

The group started Friday morning with a trip to the bus stop. Participants were asked to pretend they had just woken up and were queuing for their morning bus at the bus stop and to act as they normally would in this situation. Some of the participants joined the line busily engrossed in their phones, others with their hoods up avoiding meeting others’ gaze; while some cheerfully exclaimed “good morning” and made conversation (whether it was wanted or not).

At the end of the exercise Steve asked the group what they noticed and the response was that people demonstrated different behaviours. The discussion moved on to the idea that different people behave in different ways depending on their situation – so how you behave first thing in the morning on the bus would be different from how you behave in the early evening in a bar.

Exploring Leary’s Rose

Sandra explained Roos Van Leary and his rose model (Leary’s Rose) of behaviour to the group. The model divides behaviour into eight areas and says that individuals can occupy any of the areas at any time depending on their situation – these are not fixed.

Leary's Rose
Leary’s Rose

The models divides a circle with a vertical axis with dominant behaviour at the top and submissive behaviour at the bottom, then horizontally with individual behaviour on the left and collective thinking on the right. The circle is then divided once again diagonally producing eight areas shown in the diagram which are leader, helpful, cooperative, subsequent, withdrawn, rebellious, offensive and competitive. Sandra explained that the words were not to be taken too literally but were more of a label for the type of behaviour that is being displayed.

Inside Leary's Rose
Inside Leary’s Rose

Next the group were asked to think about each other’s behaviour within the training and discuss which area that person fitted into. In turn each participant received their feedback and was assigned to an area, remembering that it was only their behaviour from their time at the training and not responding but only listening. Sandra explained to the group that it was important not to be joking while giving feedback to ensure that the experience remained constructive and helpful.

Everyone agreed that this had been an insightful and enlightening exercise which helped individuals to consider how they are perceived within the Pathways group. There is a self assessment tool you can use for Leary’s Rose which you can find in English here and Dutch here if you want to try it for yourself.

Steve & Sandra plan their holiday
Steve & Sandra plan their holiday

Influencing with Leary’s Rose

Following the first part of the Leary’s Rose explanation Sandra and Steve went on to explain that you can use the model to influence the behaviour of others by moving between behaviour areas. They did role-play of a conversation between a fictional couple planning their annual holiday. They played it out on the taped off “Rose” on the floor, and as they exchanged comments and the conversation developed they moved from area to area. Because different behaviours in us provoke predictable responses from others, we can use our behaviour to influence the outcomes of situations we find ourselves in. The role play also demonstrated that the model is very flexible, and that we all have the capability to operate from any of the eight areas on the rose. As youth workers, the more areas we can behave in, the more effective we can be in influencing the behaviour of others.

Entering the Dragons’ Den

Meet the Dragons

On Thursday morning the group started to think about projects they could carry out in South Africa at the end of their Pathways Training journey. They were divided into groups and asked to consider what they would like to achieve, who the project would be for and approximate costs before going before a panel of youth work experts to explain their ideas.

Meet the Dragons
Meet the Dragons

Entering the Dragons’ Den

Celia, Sandra and Steve from the training team were joined by Bram, a Dutch sports and youth work professional, to form the Dragon’s Den judging panel. Each of the judges gave an introduction explaining a little about their background and areas of specialist expertise.

At the end of the preparation time the groups were asked to present their ideas to the Dragons who each gave their feedback. The project ideas included everything from arts and music showcases to sports plus much more besides. Some of the groups also thought about holding fundraising events in advance of the project to encourage people in there local areas to put funding in to help make the ideas a reality.

Impressing the Dragons
Impressing the Dragons

At the end of the pitches all of the groups were able to give points to their favourite projects in order to find a winner. Following this everyone came back together as a big group to discuss the positives and negatives of each idea. Several members of the group noted that instead of pitching their ideas to Dragons from the UK and Netherlands it would be a good idea to test ideas with youth work professionals from South Africa – this would help to establish what the needs are that the group could meet.

The group discussed whether the project should be one that is for people in South Africa or with them, meeting our needs or their needs, whether it should be with youth workers or young people. All the participants agreed that it should be a project which is not based on assumptions about the country but rather informed by people who have knowledge of what is useful or helpful.

They also considered whether a study visit might be the preferred option for the South Africa trip instead of delivery of a project and that this could be an opportunity to exchange youth work skills and knowledge.

Hearing about Learning Blogs
Hearing about Learning Blogs

Creating a Pathways Learning Blog

In the afternoon Buzz reminded the group of the four accreditation routes that the participants would each be receiving throughout their Pathways Training journey; YouthPass, Council of Europe Youth Work Portfolio, Effective Youth Leadership Badges and the Platinum Youth Achievement Award. He explained to the participants the different criteria which would need to be met and what evidence should be collected in order to meet them.

After this Duncan gave a short input on different blogging platforms which the participants were encouraged to use to write reflectively about their learning in order to develop a portfolio of evidence for the accreditation. Participants were provided with a quick start guide to blogging with recommendations for different platforms.

After this the participants had some time to go and set up their Pathways Learning Blogs and write their first entry with learning from either the induction week or the last couple of days which links to one of the criteria.

Making discoveries and looking to the future

Creating a vision board

Yesterday the group started out on the second of Covey’s habits – begin with the end in mind.

The walk of discovery

The group began with a short walk around Orvelte village in order to discover things about themselves and other members of their reflection groups. At each question along the trail the participants were asked to think individually and then share with the rest of their group and have a discussion about the question, recording some of their thoughts in their learning books.

Discovering together
Discovering together

The questions were…

  1. Think of a person who had a positive influence in your life. What qualities does that person have that you would like to develop?
  2. Imagine yourself in twenty years. You are surrounded by the most important people in your life. Who are they and what are you doing?
  3. If a steel beam (six inches wide) were placed across two skyscrapers, for what would you be willing to cross? A thousand Euros? A million Euros? Your pet? A family member? Fame?
  4. If you could spend one day in a great library studying anything you wanted, what would you study and why?
  5. List ten things you love to do. It could be singing, dancing, looking at magazines, reading, walking, cycling, daydreaming – anything you absolutely love to do.
  6. Describe a time when you were deeply inspired.
  7. If you could spend an hour with any person who ever lived, who would it be? Why that person? What would you ask?
  8. Five years from now, your local paper does a story about you and your youth work. They interview three people – a colleague, a family member, and a young person you have worked with. What would you want them to say about you?
  9. Think of something that represents you – a flower, a song, an animal. How and why does it represent you?
  10. Everyone has one or more talents. What are your talents? Which ones are essential to work with young people?
Creating a vision board
Creating a vision board

Creating a vision for the future

After the break Buzz asked the group to consider where they wanted to be in one years time in relation to six/eight areas of their life. These could be friends, family, spiritual wellbeing, work, health, financial wealth or working with young people. He explained that it is important to set realistic goals when thinking about this and that some things that you want to achieve cross over between different areas of your life.

What is the mission?
What is the mission?

Buzz explained that creating a vision board can be a good way to give yourself a visual reminder of what you should be aiming for and should be filled with emotion and meaning. He asked the participants to use old magazines to create their vision boards and, once completed, to put them next to their beds so that the board is the last thing you see before falling asleep and the first thing you see when they wake up.

State your intent
State your intent

What is the mission?

Following the creation of the vision boards the participants were asked to create a mission statement. This would be a statement of intent, allowing you to be clear on where you want to get to and the steps you need to take to get there.

The mission statement builds on WHERE you want to be as shown in the vision board and explains WHY you want to be there, the values and ethics, plus the steps you need to take to get there. The statement should also be relevant to the six/eight sections that were included in the vision board as well so that the two link together.

Taking the prison tour
Taking the prison tour

Covey behind bars

During the afternoon some members of the group headed to Veenhuizen prison for an afternoon of cultural learning. The prison was established in the 1600s as a place to move poorer members of society from the west of the Netherlands to and put them to work for three years to reintegrate them into society. The group took part in a tour of the prison to learn about the history of the place from when it was established until the present day.

Museum bars
Museum bars

Following the tour the group had a short input from former prisoner Jurgen who spoke about his experiences. Jurgen lived originally in the Hague and fell into gang culture. Over a number of years he became more involved in criminal activities, although at stages realising that he wanted to make a change. This culminated in being so desperate that he robbed a jewellery store, shot a man and subsequently served four years in prison.

Since leaving prison Jurgen has written a book and gives talks about his experience. He also runs a foundation dedicated to preventing young people from taking the path he did. During the group identified many times where Covey could be applied including the target of influence.

 

Being Proactive, The Social Mirror & Target of Influence

Discussing influence
Sandra' reminds the group of the seven habits
Sandra’ reminds the group of the seven habits

After lunch the group came back together to start to look at Covey in more depth. They were reminded of the seven habits which were touched on in the first week of the training and Sandra explained that this afternoon the focus would be on habit one, being proactive.

Covey says that being proactive means more than taking the initiative, but rather people take responsibility for their own lives and that their behaviour is based on decisions not conditions or circumstances. The opposite of this is reactive where you can be easily influenced by external factors (eg: the weather is bad so their performance or mood is negatively affected).

He says that the language people use can be a good indicator of whether someone is proactive or reactive. Reactive people can sometimes use language as a way to release themselves from taking responsibility. For example a reactive person might say “there’s nothing I can do” whereas a proactive person might say “let’s look at our alternatives”.

The social mirror
The social mirror

The social mirror

After the introduction to the proactive habit the group then set out to create their ‘social mirror’. First they created a physical mirror using coloured paper and tin foil leaving space around the edges to write their own thoughts onto it.

At the top of the mirror they had to write traits they have, to the left examples of when they have taken the initiative, to the right things that make their blood boil and then do something about it and at the bottom things that they are happy to let go. In each of the sections the participants had to give three examples in order to complete their social mirror.

The participants were encouraged to put their social mirrors in a prominent location where they would be able to see them every day in order to observe any changes in their own thinking throughout the week and remind themselves of the things that affect them.

The target of influence
The target of influence

The target of influence

Next the group spent some time thinking about the people in their lives who influence them.

Each participant was given a target divided into four quadrants; family, friends, work and learning. At the centre of the target they put themselves and then they were asked to put three people from their lives into each of the quadrants. The closer the name to the centre of the target, the more influence that person has over them.

Once the names had been added they were asked to consider whether this person was a positive or negative influence and show this in one of two colours. It was acknowledged that a person can sometimes be a positive or a negative influence depending on the situation so some people could be marked with both colours.

Discussing influence
Discussing influence

After completing their target the participants got into pairs to discuss what could be done in order to either increase or decrease the influence of a person on their life. They were encouraged to use open questions in order to have in depth conversations. Finally, they were asked to consider which people were missing from their lives, who would provide additional positive influence to them.

The circle of engagement/concern

Finally Buzz and Sandra spoke to the group about the circle of engagement/concern which sits around the target of influence. Things which sit within the the circle of concern are outside of our influence – these could be external factors or things we can’t change. As you gain more methods to increase your influence you can expand a make the circle of concern smaller. When thinking about problems which you have no influence over, Covey suggests that you just smile and learn to live with them.

Also within the circle engagement/concern are consequences and mistakes. There are always moments in your life where mistakes will happen, and if you had known the consequences you wouldn’t have made them – but the knowledge that mistakes are in the circle of engagement is an important form of proactivity. We can’t change mistakes but we can learn from them.

Puppetteering Leaders, The Pathways Signpost and Agreement Bingo

Puppetteering Leaders

On Tuesday morning the group spent some time getting to know each other once again with an exercise where they shared a personal memory of a favourite toy from their childhood and why it was important to them. They each wrote the memory on a piece of paper and told another participant the story who then in turn took it to pass it on to another member of the group.

Creating Leadership Puppets
Creating Leadership Puppets

The group then split into smaller teams and shared their leadership stories which they had created in advance of the week. Each of them took some of the elements of their story to create a combined leadership story together which they would then perform with sock puppets they created.

They then came back together with the bigger group and performed their leadership puppet show in the Pathways Theatre. Watch out for the videos of the performances to be shared on this blog soon.

The Pathways Signpost
The Pathways Signpost

The Pathways Signpost

After the morning break the group revisited their expectations, social/group process, how they would like to input, fears and uncertainties, accommodation/food, topics of the programme and learning. This was an extension of the creation of the Pathways Tree which the group previously created and a chance for the newcomers to add their own thoughts to the mix.

The group expects there to be positive energy and lots of smiling, creating a welcoming atmosphere. There will be a mixture of personalities and cultures where they can get to know each other, building on social relationships and forming new ones. There will be personal responsibility and constructive criticism without putting each other down. There will also be Dobble!

They suggested they could bring creativity, productivity and helpful information to the group. They’d offer a different mind, share their experiences and be open to discussion. They also would look after themselves, being clean and well rested – and pull their own weight. The group also wanted to be social and get to know as many people as possible.

The Pathways Signpost
The Pathways Signpost

On the accommodation and food people were pleased that there are vegetarian options, hope that the food is good throughout the week and that the training room is always warm. People were also happy with the awesome surprise on the first night with the meal prepared by Marina. Less potatoes were a priority for everyone.

They went on to share their fears and uncertainties. Some thought there were none with this group but others were worried about high expectations leading to disappointment, and being exhausted and having low energy if they don’t get enough sleep. Others were unsure of what they do to make a difference or hearing too much “blah blah blah” with nothing to learn.

People were keen to learn as much as they can, gaining a better understanding of the subject in more depth than in the first week. They wanted to make sure that the new things being learnt could have an impact on their day to day work, improve their personal skill set, youth work tools and gather feedback on their personal leadership style. It was also recognised that it is important to learn from previous mistakes and to have fun filled activities (including dressing as a pirate).

Under the anything else heading people noted that the final night would be a sad one and that they were keen to follow up on the programme once it had finished and implement their learning. Others acknowled

ged that it would be a super great experience and that more outdoor activities (weather permitting) would be nice as is the opportunity to practice English speaking skills.

Agreement Bingo
Agreement Bingo

Agreement bingo

Finally the group revisited the group agreement which they created last time they met. Buzz gave each participant a bingo card which they filled in with some of the things which they thought should be part of the agreement.

The group circulated with each other and shared some of the things they felt should form the agreement. Buzz read out the things which were included in the original agreement and the participants checked them off on their bingo cards and finally shared anything they had left over.

This formed the new group agreement: It will be a supportive and respectful atmosphere (in all senses: time, each other and the place) where everyone accepts each other and are sincere to themselves. There should be sunlight; creativity, enthusiasm, fun, humour and warmth, with good vibes.

Everyone should listen, advise and support one another, sharing transferrable skills. We should be open and honest, creating an atmosphere of trust, compassion and cooperation; without judgement.

The group will proceed with integrity, curiosity, patience, confidence, determination and courage, and will be space where everyone can participate equally and feel safe to get it wrong. There will be a spirit of teamwork, planning and building strategy in order to achieve our goals

We will try and see each others point of view and be aware of personal hygiene, tiredness and not mixing up the spoons. There will be no drinking in sessions and we won’t take things too seriously.

We’ll take personal responsibility for all of these things.

The Big Covey Quiz
The Big Covey Quiz

The big Covey quiz

To finish the morning the group split into three teams and took part in a special quiz to remind them about Covey and the seven habits which they learnt a little about in the first week. Over the rest of the week and the next one in May they will be learning more about Covey and the habits.

Arrivals and the Puzzling Programme

The Puzzling Programme

The group have come back together in Orvelte (NL) for the second instalment of the Pathways to Youth Work course. The’ve been joined by a number of new additions, three from the UK and three from the Netherlands – plus a new trainer, Cilia, on the team from the Netherlands; making the group complete.

The Puzzling Programme
The Puzzling Programme

Arrivals and a ‘puzzling programme’

On Monday the group arrived throughout the afternoon and evening and enjoyed a first evening together, reconnecting and learning about the new members.

Buzz gave the group a puzzle task to share the programme of the week with them. Each of the participants were given a numbered sheet which included an element of the programme. They were then seated in a square of chairs (five by five) with one spare and had to rearrange themselves in the same way as in a tile puzzle.

The group tried to complete the puzzle and put the programme into the correct order. They found the puzzle very challenging but noticed that when there was one person giving direction and they stood at the front, able to see the full picture, they made progress.

The Programme Laid Out
The Programme Laid Out

Programme laid out

After the exercise Buzz shared with the group the plan for the week in order, explaining what each part would involve before the group settled in and spent some time reconnecting with each other before the programme starts as a whole.