Altana’s Ex Ed Leadership Reflection

We headed up to Norrie State Park on Friday to set up camp and get out on the water in our kayaks, as well as play some games as a group. Saturday morning was somewhat of waiting game due to the rain but spirits stayed high and we got to explore a beautiful tributary of the Hudson River. By Sunday, after one last paddle, it was time to pack up camp and head back to NYC. Throughout the trip there were games and great conversation, which lead to a strong group dynamic both among the students and among the students and instructor team. My favorite part was watching this group development. I really enjoyed the trip; it was great to get out and paddle on the Hudson, and getting to a do so as a student leader was especially rewarding. The most surprising aspect of being a leader was how important it is to have backups in whatever plans one makes, because it’s difficult to predict how quickly people will move through an activity. Giles and I should have planned more games because the 10th graders moved through them very quickly, although it did end up working out. I used a variety of leadership styles throughout the trip, from being more authoritative to letting the students figure out the best way to do something for themselves. My favorite moments were not when me or Giles told the 10th graders what to do, but when they helped each other and learned from one another. This type of peer leadership is the kind that, I believe, leads to the most growth. However, in moments when time is of the essence or there are very specific instructions, it was better to be authoritarian (although it is definitely in my leadership philosophy to keep it to a minimum). For instance, on the night hike, it was better to give the students specific instructions instead of let them figure out what to do on their own, since it allowed to the group to enjoy the activity. I think one of my strengths as a leader was simply being aware of the limits of my own expertise and knowing that it is okay for students and instructors to figure things out together. Also, I think I did a good job of understanding that an activity that is easy for me might be difficult for someone else, recognizing those moments, and helping accordingly without being condescending. In the future, I could be more thorough in planning and also more assertive in times when I needed to give instructions. Overall, I wouldn’t have changed anything about my leadership on the trip or about the trip in general (even the rain!). I felt very well prepared and it was great to test out my leadership skills. 

 

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