Processes That Support a Leadership Experience
It is not just “what” girls do, but also “how” they do it that will make their experiences in financial literacy and STEM programming impactful. Integrated into the activities (what girls do), the three Girl Scout processes of “girl-led,” “learning by doing,” and “cooperative learning” (how girls do it) create an environment of fun and friendship, drive the quality of the experience, and enable the development of leadership skills. To ensure that your group of middle school girls has a high-quality and fun learning experience, integrate the three processes into all activities!
Being “girl-led” is just what it sounds like—coaching the girls to drive the planning, decision making, learning, and fun as much as possible.
Middle school aged girls are ready, and want to take on more responsibility. They want to feel like they are making their own decisions and choices. For example, you can:
Encourage girls to think about what other activities they might like to do. Do they want to take a trip? Meet a professional? (You can easily mix and match the sequence of activities based upon the interests of the girls!)
Let girls imagine, plan, organize, and implement their own projects with as little supervision as possible (you will want to assist them in thinking through the scale and scope of the projects, and guide them to realistic decisions based on time and resources).
By standing back and letting girls create their own experiences, you give girls the opportunity to feel more ownership of their group and experience and have more fun.
Learning by Doing (or Experiential Learning)
As girls "do," they also need time to reflect on what they have done. Reflection and critical thinking help girls get deeper meaning from their experiences. So, for every experience girls have along the way, encourage time for talking, sharing, reflecting, and applying their insights to new experiences in their lives. By leading each other in activities, they will be practicing this approach themselves. Articulating their thoughts and feelings will consolidate what they are discovering about themselves and leadership.
When girls work together toward shared goals in an atmosphere of respect and collaboration, they learn a lot from each other. While building their relationship skills, the girls will especially value having a team atmosphere that makes them feel safe and supported.
To support their cooperative learning experience, partner with girls on creating a team agreement. Encourage them to reflect back and speak openly and often about how they are functioning as a team. Also, whenever possible, encourage girls to do activities in pairs or small groups. Plus, it is simply more fun to do things with friends!
Next: Understanding Middle School Girls