Friday, November 13, 2015

Day 50 - Stepping Outside of the Comfort Zone - Colleen Jenkins - Speech and Language Pathologist

This post originally appeared on Ms. Jenkins Blog

My class, along with another another class in the high school, went on a field trip to Project Adventure in Beverly, MA.  I thought it would be a great opportunity for my students to put to use the skills that we have been learning about in class to actual use (that I could witness). Many of my students do participate in at least one extracurricular activity, however, I do not get to see them in action, or lack there of.  I know a few go to the activities, but are not 100% steps, I guess. Rather than "stalking" my students at their activities/clubs, I thought participating in this field trip would be a great way of observing them in action.

Project Adventure is an outdoor adventure type of experience. The 35 students plus eight chaperons were divided into three groups. Each group had a group leader who lead us through a series of activities that were designed to "stretch" us and encourage us to leave our comfort zone to enter the "stretch zone." Pete was our leader and he was great with the students!

The first set of activities were designed to get to know each other's names, work on communication skills, memory skills and good sportsmanship. The next series of activities were on the "low ropes" course. The purpose of these tasks were to facilitate problem solving skills, communication and team work...and good sportsmanship. Out of the four student that were from my class, only one chose to participate in the low ropes course; which entailed swinging on a rope swing and trying to land on a very small platform. The second part of the low ropes course was more inclusive and gave the option to walk with the rope swing so that the students who did not want to swing could participate in problem solving activity with the students who decided to "stretch" themselves. One student, who is not in my class, demonstrated an amazing ability to keep trying even when he did not succeed in what he was attempting. What was even more amazing was when the others in the group 1) showed concern for him, 2) encouraged him to try again and 3) cheered him on when he did succeed. This happened at least three times. I know that at least one of my students feared that he/she would fall and become embarrassed.

After the group finished the "low ropes," the group got together to put on their harnesses for the "high ropes" course. The look of fear and panic descended on several of my students. They did not want to even put on the harness for fear that they would have to go up. This was when Pete, the P.A. Leader, reminded the students about the "challenge by choice" philosophy; to stretch outside of your comfort zone to your stretch zone, but not enter the panic zone. Even though my students did not want to climb up the 20 (or 30) ft ladder to walk across a telephone poll, they did participate in handling the rope as the climber ascended to the top of the poll.

At the end of the day, my students realized that teamwork and communication is really important in working in a group to accomplish a goal or group plan. Several of them stated that if they had the chance to do it again, they would try holding the ladder for the climber to climb on or swing on the rope, or even try to climb the ladder. When asked why, they stated that it was because the group of students they were with were supported and cheered the others on, even if they were not successful.


    Yes, this is the "high ropes" course!

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