Volunteer Experience

Girl-Led, Learning by Doing and Cooperative Learning

3 Processes for a Successful Leader Experience

Girl Scouts uses three key processes in providing girls with a quality experience: girl-led, cooperative learning, and learning by doing. These processes are key in everything we do with girls and helps us ensure we are best serving our girl members, but we want to know, is there any value in these processes for our adult members?

Let’s start with girl-led. The voice of the girl will always be our priority, but for this instance, let’s think of this in this context of volunteer-led. Our volunteers drive the Girl Scout movement, and without you we could never reach the thousands of girls that Girl Scouts of Western Ohio serves. GSUSA and GSWO staff work to ensure our volunteers are supported and feel heard and included in the conversation, because we know that serving our volunteers to the best of our ability will result in girls receiving a quality Girl Scout Leadership Experience!

Learning by doing. Hands-on or experiential learning seems like a no-brainer when we think of the Girl Scout experience. For our adult members, you often get to be part of this process when the girls are learning new things, and you are asking them basic debriefing questions. We also see learning by doing in our in-person volunteer learning opportunities. Our trainers and facilitators work to ensure you can experience the topic at hand or practice the skill presented. 

Do you make a habit of debriefing meetings, events, etc. with your co-leaders or parents / caregivers? If not, we challenge you to try this! We often wait until the end of the year, but try checking in frequently to ensure everyone is on the same page or to consider other possibilities.

That leads us to cooperative learning.  We teach girls everyday to learn from others, consider perspectives that differ from her own, respect others’ strengths, and to share her own strengths. Got it, right?

Ok, let’s talk adults. You can be honest, it’s not always easy when working with others is it? Of course not! As adults especially, we have formed particular ways of thinking and doing and don’t always make room for someone else’s way of thinking and doing because who has time for that?  It’s just easier if we do it ourselves…

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.

What if we told you that focusing on the cooperative learning process with the adults in your troop will actually make things better for everyone, including the girls and that’s what we’re here for? Here’s a few tips for utilizing the cooperative learning process with the adult members in your troop:

  1. Take time to get to know one another. Often times troop leaders are placed together with no prior connection to one another and in a rather short window of time, expected to complete trainings, create a plan, meet with the parents, and then get rolling with your troop. Yeah, that’s stressful! But don’t rush the preparation and team building aspect. After all, it takes a village. Start with something fun like having everyone take the G.I.R.L. Quiz to find out what kind leadership qualities each of you brings to the table.
  2. Remember your purpose. Everyone comes to the table with an idea in mind, but make sure your team has a particular goal or mission in mind. Hopefully that includes keeping the focus on girls and their safety, interests, and goals. We all need a reminder sometimes that it’s not about what the adults want to do or their idea of Girl Scouts.
  3. Be open. If something isn’t working, share that! First, assess, though, if it isn’t working or if it’s just not how you would do it. If someone is coming to you with constructive criticism, are you open to accepting that?
  4. Reassess. Just because you all came to an agreement at the beginning of the year, doesn’t mean it’s going to work out as planned. Just as we guide girls to consistently reassess and try a new angle, give yourselves permission to do the same.
  5. Take time to bond. Sometimes we need to step back and just connect on a human level. Grab some coffee, attend a Adult Conference, or find some other way to have a little fun and take the frustration out of the equation for a moment. It’s like working on a project and feeling stale, but when you walk away and come back it feels fresh and your previous frustration doesn’t seem so daunting.

We hear volunteers talk about the things they have gotten out of being an adult in Girl Scouts and the comradery and connection to others is nearly always at the top of the list, just second to the gift of watching girls develop into Go-Getters, Innovators, Risk-Takers and Leaders.  What are some thing you have done to strengthen the respect and connection among your troop leadership team?

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