Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why Leadership Researchers Need Play-Doh

Imagine yourself as a leader.
You don't think of yourself as a leader?
Could be currently or in the future.
What do you do well? Where is a safe zone for you? What do others recognize in you?

Keeping that in mind, how would you represent yourself visually?
Create an image of yourself as a leader.

Sculpt that image.

With play-doh.

What follows are some examples from the 1st day with my new group of highschool English Language Learners, who weren't quite sure what to do at first with this "play-doh" stuff. As you can see, they definitely figured it out.

I am the leader of drawing. Of showing and giving pictures or
drawings to other people like my little sisters and brother. 
I motivate my team in soccer team.

Im a lider of guys about do exercises or anythings sports like play
soccer, run, play basketball anything that can help them to get a
better body and health.
I' am a leader because when my team is going to give up,
I tell them don't do that so I can motivate them to  work
together as a team. 

I'am a leader because I'am a warrior in my studies I want to
be a very important person 
I motivate to work out. Work out!

I am a leader at this because I keep happy when they are sad.
I tell them something make smile or laugh.

Written reflections after this activity indicated that first of all, these 17 and 18 year olds had never done such an activity before, and definitely not in highschool. (Surprise!) Secondly, most of them had never thought of themselves as leaders in any way, but doing this helped them think a little differently about what they like to do. (and how their skills can make them a leader!) I call it "planting the seed".

I used this activity not only to get to know my students' self-assessed strengths, but also to see how they persisted when faced with something novel and unorthodox. For the writing, I asked them to write an explanation of their play-doh creations (most wrote 1-3 sentences), and include a title, for a new way of obtaining a quick snapshot of their writing abilities on day one. After sharing out, this activity took about 50 minutes total.

This was our very first get-to-know-you activity this semester, one I had never tried before. To be honest, I had no idea what to expect, but wow, was I impressed, and there was a lot of laughter. What do you think? Would your students react positively to a similar activity? How do you predict these students' thinking of leadership will evolve this semester? How would your play-doh sculpture look?

Stay tuned as this semester's ELLs learn more about being leaders and learners...

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