End on a positive note…

It would be very easy for me to write and share on this blog like I’m the best Guider in the world ever.

Some days I do a great job.

Some days I fall short.

I fell short on Monday night as a Guider.

Last night, myself and another guider went to one of our city’s theatres to see Class Act 2014. Class Act is a project where pupils studying English or Drama get the opportunity to be playwrights. Through a series of workshops they get the chance to write a short play, and then see it performed by professional actors. Two of our young leaders and one of the girls who used to be in our Guide unit had written plays and we got two complimentary tickets to see the performance.

As the pile of pupils, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers (and us guide leaders) piled into the theatre one young lad was having a conversation with one of the young leaders. I think it was to do with being nervous about others seeing his play, I’m not sure. I just heard the following sentence:

“I won’t be mean to you. I can’t be mean to you in front of my Guide leader anyway!”

To which I piped in with: “I would hope you wouldn’t be mean even if I wasn’t here!” and we all laughed (because I just can’t imagine this girl being mean anyway).

But it did make me realise something, that it’s probably another thing in my culture that the girls have picked up on from my interactions with them.

I don’t like people being rude or mean to each other.

So let’s go back to Monday night at Guides. It started off well with us all gathering in a circle to talk about the feedback they’d given to us about what they’d like to do this term and me updating them with some new information about the possibilities of making it happen. There were the usual tangents, but then I had to use my stern voice as a few girls began talking loudly between themselves when other people were trying to contribute or ask questions. It was really rude, and I explained that to them (as I have done a few times before). The girls broke into their patrols to plan their activities for the term – doing Go For Its and the theme night each patrol was going to host for the unit. Some got on great. But then one patrol descended into chaos as two ignored the others in their group planned things the rest of the girls didn’t want to do which as far as I could tell was based around wanting to make a heart shaped carrot cake.

At the end the girls took so long clearing up – one patrol had littered their area of the hall with balls of scrunched up paper on the floor, and the lids of the new felt pens we’d bought them only the other week. Abandoned. One quieter member of the patrol saw it and began to pick it all up – the rest of her group all chattering away with other patrols having cleared and tidied away already. Sort of. Another group hadn’t bothered to put their tables back properly left them, and then other girls could get their tables away.

I was already stressed out knowing I had a research paper due in a couple hours after the meeting still unfinished. And I think finding the brand new pens treated so carelessly got to me.

And so as they gathered in a horseshoe telling me they hadn’t got to play a game (I’d said they could if they got tidied up on time – they hadn’t). I  thanked the three girls who had taken the intiative to clear up what others had abandoned. I explained to the unit how if they had tidied up more quickly and all helped they would have had time to play a game. then I told them that I’d been disappointed at seeing the way they were treating each other, our resources and the hall.

I saw them deflate.

And then the meeting ended.

As they walked out, I felt deflated too. Because I’d ended on a negative note.

I hadn’t told them how so many of them had come up with such great, imaginative ideas for their theme nights. Or how it was great to see one of the patrols working so well together after struggling to do this last term (yay for Teamwork Go For It!).

It must have been so discouraging, and I ‘d broken one of my golden rules. Yes, it’s important to address issues like rudeness, meanness or laziness – why it’s unfair to leave all the tidy up to one person, or to leave a mess for someone else to fix instead of just asking for help or why we don’t sit with our phones making fun of folks from school ignoring others in the group…but it’s also important to find more things to praise that to criticise.

Next week, I’m going to aim to do better. And apologise.

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2 thoughts on “End on a positive note…

  1. Yes, it’s good to be positive. But sometimes, saying ‘that was wrong’ and not immediately following it with something which could come across as ‘well never mind, what you did great was’ can make it much clearer that you are genuinely unhappy with their failing – and give them time to grasp what they did to offend and why it bothered you. Next week can be a fresh positive start, and it’s up to the Guides to help keep things positive, by what they say and do.

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