Berne, E. 1963. The structure and dynamics of groups. New York: Grove Press.
Clarke, J.E. 1983. Who, me lead a group? Winston Press.
Mitten, D., and K. Clement. 2007. Skills and responsibilities for adventure education leaders. In Adventure based programming and education, eds. R. Prouty, J. Panicucci, and R. Collinson. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
To draw on the students’ past experiences and memories to aid in their understanding of the functions of leadership. This lesson also helps students experience the benefits of shared leadership.
As a result of this lesson students will be able to . . .
1. Affective: listen to others and value their experiences.
2. Affective: feel the impact of giving voice to their thoughts.
3. Cognitive: recognize the need for the three types of leadership.
4. Cognitive: describe the three functions or jobs of a leader and be able to systematically practice them to enhance individual group and community experiences.
5. Cognitive: be able to select and justify appropriate leadership behavior to increase collaborative leadership among group members.
6. Cognitive: develop more skills in meta-cognition, specifically in being able to watch themselves as they perform leadership functions.
7. Cognitive and affective: use the three functions of leadership to contribute to the development of a "caring group environment."
8. Cognitive and affective: understand that the more the effective and psychological leadership jobs are shared, the more easily the program or trip and the competencies and accomplishments can be shared by all the group members.
9. Cognitive and psychomotor: understand the process of journaling through application.
Two 50-minute sessions. Students journal between the class sessions.
8 to 40
Indoors or outdoors
40 fleece, tennis, or other balls less than 4 inches (10 centimeters) in diameter
Assembled outdoor gear (the gear you might have in a base camp, including one or more tents, stove, cooking gear, and the like)
Risk Management Considerations
Before the class, students read the Background about the three functions of a leader.
No prelesson preparation needed
Lesson Content and Teaching Strategies
Set the stage for the first class session by describing breaking trail in the snow and how taking turns keeps one person from having to do the hard work of all the trailbreaking. If students can go out in the snow and take turns breaking a ski, snowshoe, or walking trail for each other, that would be ideal. During the other three seasons, if you have access to woods that have spider webs across the trails in the mornings, you can take turns breaking trail (getting stuck with spider webs) in that environment. If the outdoor component is not possible, tell a story about taking turns breaking trail or drafting on bicycles. Geese flying in a V-formation is another phenomenon that fits the concept. Students should get the idea that if we all take turns in the leadership position, there is less chance for any one person to become exhausted. At the same time, if all the participants are too tired to break trail and for some reason you all have to keep moving, the designated or responsible leader has to be able to break the trail.
Define and explain the three jobs or functions of a leader. After a short explanation, have students pair-share an experience they have had as a responsible leader or in a group in which there was a responsible leader. Then have students share a few examples in the large group to be sure that everyone is grasping the concept. Do the same for effective and psychological leaders. Have the students share both positive and negative experiences or examples of these three leadership concepts.
Sometimes it is hard for students to grasp the concept of only one responsible leader. For example, on an outdoor trip the head leader is always the responsible leader, even if the program uses the leader of the day (LOD) concept to give students leadership practice. Most people can understand that the head leader must remain the responsible leader because of liability issues, but the reasons are broader than liability. Participants can feel free to try new ways of being in a group, as well as new ways to be effective and psychological leaders, knowing that the responsible leader is their safety valve. Having a designated responsible leader helps keep the trip safe because the roles are clear. As an example, safety expectations and contracts cannot be changed just because the group members are in smaller groups and the responsible leader cannot be in all groups. Certain questions about safety will be referred to the responsible leader, even if the responsible leader asks for student input and opinions, again providing a safety net for the participants.
Describe organic psychological and effective leadership and how these can be recognized and reinforced by the responsible leader, as well as how the responsible leader can delegate psychological and effective leadership tasks. Organic leadership behavior occurs when a participant does an effective or psychological leadership task because she or he sees that it needs to be done rather than because she or he is told to do it. Leadership grows organically from the group members.
Activity 1: Leadership Conundrum
End this first of two class sessions with the following activity. Have the students queue up one behind another in a single-file line. Stand about 15 feet (4.6 meters) in front of the first person and face that person. Have about 40 balls 4 inches (10 centimeters) or less in diameter.
Tell the group members to walk toward you; the front person or leader must catch and hold the balls as you roll or toss them. The goal is for all the students to reach you without dropping any balls. Roll and toss balls moderately quickly so that the front-line leader has too many balls to hold.
Start over, telling the students that now they should figure how to share the leadership job of catching the balls and reaching their goal but that only one person can be out of line at a time. Usually the students will take a turn at catching a couple of balls and then quickly move to the end of the line. Then the next person will catch a couple of balls and move to the line’s end. This way the students as a group will be able to catch all of the balls and reach you. Having the students stay in a line symbolizes the orderly or boundaried process of sharing leadership.
- What did you see happening during this activity?
- What feelings came up for you during this activity?
- What did you think about when the line leader was getting bombarded with balls?
- How did you feel watching the line leader try to catch all the balls?
- What did it feel like to all have a part in catching the balls?
- How did having a part in catching the balls affect your task completion?
Relate this activity back to the trailbreaking example; discuss how sharing effective and psychological leadership functions can help trips run more smoothly, help all participants truly experience the success of the trip, and possibly keep the leader from becoming exhausted.
Activity 2: Journal Assignment
Have the students keep a journal between this class and the next, recording their behavior in the three leadership functions as well as behavior that they observe in others. Students should record positive as well as negative examples. Students turn in the journals before the next class so that you can determine if they are grasping the concepts. On trail, students can also keep a journal.
Activity 3: Fifteen (Plus) Ways to Be a Leader
At the beginning of the second class session, ask students to share some observations from their journal assignments.
Have students divide into groups of three to five people. Using the assembled outdoor gear, have each group prepare an in-depth skit. During the skit, each group shows at least five examples, some positive and some negative, of responsible, effective, and psychological leadership behavior (for the effective and psychological
leadership, show both organic and delegated). Because they use a great deal of gear, the skits tend to be authentic and detailed and to provide clear examples. For instance, students may set up camp showing how leadership functions might be displayed. Before they perform the skit, students write out what behaviors they plan to demonstrate. Students watching the skit keep track of the leadership behaviors they see. After the skit, compare the two records.
Activity 4: Leadership Letter to a Colleague
Students write a letter to a colleague about a trip, real or imaginary, telling the colleague about at least three examples of each of the functions of leadership as they occurred on the trip. At least two of the examples should be ones that the letter writer participated in. The student can have been either a leader or a participant on the trip.
The take-home message from this lesson is that if the leadership is shared in appropriate ways, students learn more about leadership, including judgment and decision making. Also a trip is usually safer, and the successes and failures are more completely shared by the participants.
Assessment of Learning
After their pair share, as students participate in discussion, assess whether they are grasping the concepts.
Students either in small groups or as a whole can compare what the skit performers intended to share and what the watchers observed.
Use the rubric provided in table 17.1 to assess the leadership letter to a colleague.