Situation: I am the teacher of a middle school P.E. class and I am looking to try out some team building activities to strengthen the class’s unity. The reason that I would use team-building techniques is to help unify the students and help them to feel as though they are part of the group. But what is a group? Gill and Williams define the term group as a “collection of individuals that are aware of each other, relate to each other in some way and are able to interact with each other through group processes.” (Gill & Williams, 2008, p. 241-242) With that said, being part of a group is more than the occasional hi, how are you; it is dynamic in nature and requires effort. Using team-building techniques will help me to facilitate healthier group discussions and have better class attendance due to a higher sense of comradery. What I need to address with my team-building techniques would be social loafing. Latane, Williams and Harkins coined social loafing as the motivational loss in a group setting. (Latane, Williams & Harkins, 1979) The technique that I would use is one that I was a part of when I was younger. My teacher split us into smaller groups of both boys and girls. Each group was given a scenario to work through but each member of the group was required to add their input. The way in which this worked was that once someone spoke their mind, they we no longer able to speak until the rest of the group spoke their mind. And this was repeated until the scenario was completed. This allowed for everyone to be heard, as well as taught the more talkative students that listening is sometimes better than talking and taught the more reserved kids that their opinion matters and they shouldn’t be embarrassed or afraid to speak in class. Once all of the small groups completed their task, the entire class got together and this same process was repeated with the entire class. It allowed everyone to feel a sense of “ownership” when the task was completed as well as promoted an atmosphere of encouragement and understanding.
Situation: I am the instructor of an older adult exercise program at the senior center and I am looking into using social support to help foster better results and more enjoyment for my participants. Social support is defined by Shumaker and Brownell as, “an exchange of resources between at least two individuals perceived by the provider or the recipient to be intended to enhance the well being of the recipient.” (Schumaker & Brownell, 1984, p. 13) The reason I find social support so important and the reason that I want to use it is because it will help to create more group cohesion. If I can create a group atmosphere where there is a lot of positive energy and support for one another; my participants will have a much better experience and receive more perceived benefits. The three techniques/resources that I will look into will be tangible resources, informational resources and emotional resources. In an exercise setting there is a lot of equipment that is potentially dangerous, therefore I will pair the participants up into groups of two or three so they can help assist each other with the machines and their workouts. Research shows that when working out with one or more people, there is a sense of obligation to those other people and there is a better chance of people sticking with their workout programs. Working out with someone of your caliber also helps to motivate you to push yourself and to give more effort than you would if you were alone. The second resource would be information. Information is power and as the instructor I have an obligation to my participants to inform them of the benefits of a positive atmosphere. If I can engrain the benefits of positive talk and support for one-another in their brains, they will be able to foster positive emotions on their own, without my help. And lastly is using emotion. As the leader, if I show positive emotion towards each individual no matter their skill level, that characteristic should rub off on each on my participants and eventually all of them will be so supportive of each other and staying positive that I would be able to simply supervise their exercise program rather than instruct them.
In conclusion as either the teacher or the instructor, I feel as though empowering both the students and the participants is the best technique because it helps foster self-confidence; which ultimately leads to better leadership and support skills.
Gill, D., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise. Pp. 241-
266. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Latane, B., Williams, K.D., & Harkins, S.G. (1979). Many hands make light work: The
causes and consequences of social loafing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 823-832.
Shumaker, S.A., & Brownell, A. (1984). Toward a theory of social support: Closing
conceptual gaps. Journal of Social Issues, 40 11-36.