Gesticulation and Expression

A lovely lass at ‘Mend the Gap’ took lots of photos for us.
It’s been great to look through those and to have a visual summary and story of all that happened. However, one of the amusing things is the number of shots of me giving the introduction and at various stages during the day, the notices. It’s very funny to get a perspective that I’ve never had before ….. what I look like and do, when I’m speaking.
me talk 8.jpg
It has amused me so I’m uploading them in the extended entry. It seems that my arms are kept fairly busy during the process of talking 🙂

Continue reading “Gesticulation and Expression”

Do rules set by the group work?

Having a bit of a blogging block this morning so trawled back in the annals of the history of the musing of the Youthblog and discovered this post. Back in 2008 I asked for some suggestions and I haven’t answered all of them yet, so as part of this ‘rapid response’ *cough* service, here’s one of those questions:
Do rules set by the group work?
My answer, yes!
There we go, job done and only 3 years late!
But as there has been a BIT of a wait, let me put some flesh on that answer.
I actually think this is THE best way to go but having said that it must flow from relationship and trust. It also works best when there is some sort of framework to make it happen AND it is a mutual negotiation that has implications for the team too.
This is one of my favourite ways of negotiating the rules and boundaries (no claim to originality, I came across it in a statutory youth work context years ago).
Gather group and team together. (Remembering to be aware of power dynamics, eg not having team sitting above the young people but with and alongside). Give the conversation some context talking about who the group are, why it exists, why the volunteers give up their time to make it happen. Use open questions and listen to the group as to what the like/don’t like about the group. Build trust.
Introduce the idea that the group needs to be safe, welcoming and a good place to be and how it might help to talk about some values and rules.
Here’s the technique that I was alluding too.
Grab a flipchart pad and draw a triangle that doesn’t fill the entire sheet. At one corner write “The venue” (or similar) at another, “The Leaders” and at the last, “The group!”
(If you still have a corner left, you’ve done it wrong)
Then the task is to add what we believe the rules, values and expectations are.
Starting with the building or venue gives a chance to cover some of the ‘rules’ that are imposed already, eg ‘No Smoking’ and ‘Areas that are off limits” etc
Then a free ranging conversation from team and young people about the things that leaders and young people are looking for. If you have built trust then this is a great conversation and will produce rules and expectations for all …… and some requirements for you as team like, ‘not shouting’ or ‘not assuming what happened’
When each of these rules or expectations are agreed, they should be written at the relevant point of the triangle.
You can then also talk about what the group believe the sanctions should be for not living by the agreed code (this take sanctions out of the realm of being arbitrary adult punishment, and instead, agreed action)
negotiation of rules.jpg
At this point EVERYONE (team included) signs the outer edge of the sheet to agree the rules. This is a powerful endorsement of the process and the outcome. Putting the page up on the wall is also useful and young people will often refer to it.
This is only one process, not the answer
The group setting the rules though, yes I believe it works … as long as it is based on trust, relationship and genuine exploration, oh and it is truly democratic in that it has implications and accountability for the leaders and the young people.
Feel free to post other ideas and experiments ….

Top 20 Youth Ministry blogs

greenbogbutton.jpgThe Youth Ministry blogging ‘Oscars’ are just around the corner and next week will see the unveiling of the 2011 “Top 20!” Last year I made number nine which made me very happy indeed and was the cause of much smileage. But ‘9’ is a precarious position, there is room to go up…. but even more scope for sliding gracefully down.
We do have some ‘new media’ awards in this country generously hosted by Premier. However you need to self-nominate and that is not something that feels right to me, hence I haven’t. (It’s now a few years since the blog spike, so I’m the wrong side of the curve on this anyway now).
However the Top 20 Youth Ministry blogs is fab as it is assessed on influence, links, readership and voted on by peers. Being in the top 20 therefore is a HUGE honour.
Watch this space
*nervous pacing up and down begins*

This is me

I’m REALLY looking forward to the “Yellow Braces” Camp although slightly whelmed by what needs to be done yet, made more complicated by the Taize trip which is very much akin to herding cats at the moment. (I may or may not have a couple of space places if you have a 15-19 year old interested in coming and having a huge whack of the fees paid for them).
No complaints though as having two impending pieces of youth work is good for the soul and a great antidote to the desky stuff that is way too prevalent at the moment.
Very chuffed to have had a really encouraging and lovely ‘Thank You’ card in the post. This has made my day and I want to record my appreciation here (once again using my cunning encoding system), so thank you so much Tap (you know who you are and I shall miss you)
Whilst I’m doing a kind of round-robin blog post on life, the universe and the splendid nature of fruit cake, what else can I tell you?
Health is OK at the moment. Fatigue is always waiting to mug me again but I am learning which metaphorical dark alleyways to avoid. Family chaos life continues to be a great blessing full of laughter, learning, challenge and endless clearing up.
My youngest and I are off Kayaking on the river Wye this weekend! “Why?” I hear you ask and “no” I reply, “Wye!”
Caution: Emotional vulnerability imminent
It’s been nearly 18 months since my dad died and I am still grieving. Sometimes it’s just missing him and longing for him to still be there, as a person and a kind of generational anchor. Other times I find tears very close to the surface for odd and seemingly unrelated reasons, just a sort of ragg-ed emotional vulnerability and sensitivity.
It’s been interesting living with these emotions/feelings and to follow them down to their root. I’m learning a lot about myself, my faith and I think gleaning some great Youth workery stuff; a deeper empathy and connection with loss, pain or grief in others.
But even so, not easy; I can see why the Road less travelled is thus.
Life is not intrinsically safe methinks, whereas an entire yard full of Liquified Petroleum Gas, it appears, is!
intrinsically safe.jpg
(Very odd sign I thought ….. for something to be intrinsically safe is has to be safe by the very nature of what it is. Musing further: Youth work is often in settings that are not intrinsically safe …. but through leadership and skilled practice are engaged with more safely.)


littlepoolswim.jpgI’ll be pretty much incommunicado for the next couple of days as I’m on a Lifeguarding course ahead of the ‘Yellow Braces’ camp. I could do without being in a pool and a classroom for Monday and Tuesday but it’s important stuff so hey ho.
The good news though is that it is based at the Spa of a really posh hotel
The bad news though is I’m not staying (too expensive)
The good news though is that I’ve bought the van so i can have a snooze and a cuppa at lunchtime.
Catch up with you soon
Captains’ log supplemental. Made it through day one but looking forward to sleep. Good day in the pool but slightly weirdly we are not the only users, thus I have been asked to ‘tone down’ my instructions to the drowning ‘casuality’ especially from the side. (Really quiet role play doesn’t work methinks but hey ho).
Captains’ log supplemental, supplemental. Passed the course, Yay!

Keep to a minimum

I was at a meeting all morning at a church in the Diocese (that narrows it down to 800) that also had a youth room (Ok, that narrows it down a lot further). Being in someone else’s ‘youth den’ always unleashes my Inner Social Anthropologist, or to put it more plainly triggers me having a good old nosey round.
I was delighted to find these rules and am loving #4. Gotta like the fact that outside of games physical violence should try to be kept to a minimum. I am liking my imaginary picture of this group, outside of games ….. BUT especially at play when violence can have more of a free reign. Fab!
I know the youth Worker in question sometimes calls into the blog, and to respect his right to anonymity I shall encrypt his name by referring to him only in anagram. Thanks for making me smile MOT

A deep-end-able Lifeguard?

Mannequinretrieve.jpgI’m on a life-guarding course next week but as it is one for the hotel leisure sector, we’ll be doing the course in a hotel pool. All well and good except hotel pools tend to be so shallow that retrieving an unconscious orange mannequin from the bottom is not a huge challenge, merely a case of sympathetically reaching down … with perhaps a slight bend of the knees.
All good you might think, nice and easy … on a parr with doing an AQA exam that posts the same questions you had for the practice two months previously. However you only qualify to the depth you did your test in. A certificate that asserts you can safely rescue from depths up to18 inches is neither useful or very cool.
So, tonight I am turning up at a pool at 9pm. retrieving a ‘body’ from the deep end and gaining the signature of the lifeguard, in order that my qualification next week can be marked with a little more depth (and hence gravitas) than my training environment.
Captain’s Log Supplemental: Successfully rescued the mannequin from the Deep End of the pool and ‘Mr White and Orange Torso’ survived the experience in tact. Am now qualified to rescue mannequins, shop dummies and I guess Scarecrows if they find themselves on the bottom of a pool.

Getting Fired for the Glory of God

I haven’t updated my book list on the sidebar for a while. Mainly because it never makes it very high up the ‘to do’ list and partly because it is inaccurately titled given that it doesn’t mention the constant stream of thrillers that I burn through. (Recently O.D’d on ‘Clive Cussler’ but I’m largely over that now).
But I wanted to mention that I am REALLY loving one book in particular from ‘the pile’, Getting Fired for the glory of God, the collected words of Mike Yaconelli for youth workers.
getting fired for the glory of god.jpg
Mark Yaconelli and this brothers and sisters have put together the collection in memory of Mike, to share his passion and perspective …. and as a fund raiser for for a school in Zimbabwe. Their main reason for the book though is given as this, “Our hope is that you may find within Dad’s writing and speaking a reminder of your own calling to love Jesus and love kids, as well as that courage to follow that calling. – even if it does mean losing your job”
Mike loved Jesus, hated hypocrisy and believed in Youth Ministry. His words continue to be a challenge, often an ‘ouch’ but laced with stories of the kingdom, and of the dangerous memory and presence of Jesus.
Reading this book transports me right back to Greenbelt in the 80’s where thousands of us would queue to hear Yaconelli talk about being a follower of Jesus in ways that made sense, didn’t ‘soft soap’ and engaged with reality and actual truth. My faith and my Youth Work are undeniably shaped by Mike and his stories.
But even if you never had the privilege of hearing Mike, I reckon this book is WELL worth a read/listen for all Youth Ministers. It’s inspiring, dangerous, provocative and fun …. but might just get you fired.