On the 24th of February, Ramapo for Children visited the Play Rugby office in NYC and spent the afternoon with a group of 15 Youth Development Mentors. Ramapo for Children started out as a camp for special needs children in Northern New York. Today, Ramapo helps schools, community organizations and families foster inclusive and supportive environments for children and young adults.
We began the workshop with a game called “Strike a Pose” where, in groups, we had to come up with a pose and strike it. Once we saw everyone else’s pose, we had to all strike the same pose at once. But here’s the catch, we couldn’t communicate with any other group. 2nd time around everyone in the room was doing the same pose, surprising the teacher. This game got us to relax and taught us:
- Compromise – some of the poses were difficult and took 3 people to do it, realizing that not all of the groups could do them, some sacrificed their poses for the easier ones.
- Observance – on the 1st round of trying to do the same pose, you could see a majority of groups chose the simple “High five” pose one of the groups came up with. By the 2nd time around people saw the lead and took it.
- Body Language – not being able to talk to other groups, we had to use our eyes and see what groups people were looking at and how they were talking to each other within their own group.
Next up, it was time to brainstorm some behaviors. Our facilitator, Brett, asked what behaviors can make teaching kids more difficult. Here are some that came up:
- Calling out
- Side conversations
- Jokes, when it’s not appropriate
- Difficulty staying with the group/wandering off
- Negative behavior/bullying
- Language barriers
- Self-control/it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt
- Inappropriate language/swearing
- Boundary testing
- Lack of wanting to participate.
We went on to discuss possible reasons for these behaviors:
- Grieving/emotion coping
- Change in routine/staff changes
- Lack of acknowledgement/attention
- Habits/lack of ability to co-switch – having different versions of yourself for different situations.
All behavior is a communication of unmet needs and lagging skills. As coaches, or people working with kids, we need to meet their needs and teach skills without taking it personally!
QTIP – Quit Taking It Personal
So, how can we meet these needs and teach the skills? We need to lead by example. Most kids don’t listen to what you are saying, they follow what you physically do. Telling them to do one thing then doing the complete opposite can lead to confusion, and they might no longer be able to see you as a role model.
Here are some examples we thought of:
|Staff Say||Staff Do|
|Don’t interrupt||Talks whenever they want|
|Communicate Clearly||Doesn’t communicate clearly|
|Obey the Rules||Breaks own rules|
|Look before you pass||Doesn’t look|
|Be Prepared, Switch on||Comes unprepared and tired|
You must practice what you preach! Students pick up on a lot more than you realize. Leading by example is the best bet for having kids respect and like you. Next, we were introduced to the Ramapo toolbox for creating environments that support success. This had 4 building blocks:
Responding, Reflecting, repairing.
Adapting for Individual needs.
Clear Expectations, Structures and Routines.
Relationships and Role Modelling.
Starting from the bottom, we used the tools for each category to help solve some problems we each had as a coach.
The conflict circle was next:
Using each of the blocks and understanding how conflicts and relationships grow and change, the workshop showed each of us how to be the best mentors we can be! We’re so thankful to Ramapo for sharing their expertise and supporting our team!