Unfortunately due to the outbreak of Covid-19, we have been unable to see the service partners face to face since my last reflection. That being said, we still worked to plan sessions given that it was possible the restrictions could have been lifted. We also worked on the portfolio for our service and communicated to the service partners via email, providing them with an update and asking for feedback on our activities. This will enable us to collaborate effectively (LO5) with the new grade 11’s next year to ensure that they can build on our progress and relationships formed with the service partners.
We were planning to do an activity with the junior school in order to further develop our skills when working with younger children, however, due to the transition to online learning, this was no longer possible. As chair, I made sure that everyone had a task and we divided the group so that we worked collaboratively (LO5) on each of the tasks. Perhaps an ethical decision was weighing the safety of the students with their mental well being. For them, coming to visit our school is a break in their daily cycle and they get very excited to be in such a new environment. That being said, their safety is of utmost importance so it was more important that we minimised contact with others to protect them.
Overall, I feel as though my experience as chair of the service has enabled me to understand and respect people a lot more. I gained a huge appreciation for the difficulties facing HI and VI students in terms of communication and day to day life. As I wish to pursue Medicine in the future, I believe this experience has given me an important insight into the respect for all human lives as well as how to empathise and communicate with all different kinds of people. Furthermore, as the leader of the service, I was able to further build upon the leadership skills that I first developed in football (see reflections) and grow more confident in organising sessions. (LO2) Lastly, given the circumstances that we experienced, I feel as though we were able to effectively collaborate as a group to help the children and understand how to effectively work as a group. (LO2 and LO5)
After our first two visits with the children, I feel it is important to highlight the challenges that have been undertaken and identify ways in which we can develop new skills to improve them. One of the main barriers that we have faced is our barriers in communication, as we can only speak and understand English we cannot communicate with the students with a hearing impairment without an interpreter. In the next seven sessions, the children are unable to visit us, and as such we will be learning Singapore sign language through the use of online videos, in order to be able to make an effort to be able to interact with all students. We are also developing our body language and facial expression to appear more friendly and approachable, with the goal of allowing the children to feel comfortable in the new environment. This was important in tackling learning outcome 2, we were adapting to the challenges that faced us and took action through our planning to improve this and achieve our goal.
Another piece of information that we discovered was that the visually impaired (VI) and hearing-impaired (HI) children could perform activities alongside each other. Initially, we had developed separate activities for the VI and HI children, however, through trial and error, we discovered that the children prefer to choose their own activities rather than to be assigned ones, and can often interact with all kinds of students. This allowed us to see the students working collaboratively on different art pieces, no matter the disability. It also changed the way that we collaborated on the activities.
One main challenge that we faced was surrounding commitment. We only have a limited number of sessions to plan our activities and brainstorm new ways to keep the children engaged. One of the things we noticed was that attendance was much lower for the sessions were we planned which in turn, made it very difficult to run sessions with the children. This was a challenge we faced which we had to overcome with collaboration. We divided the volunteers up into groups, each leading a different activity. Even when volunteers were not at the sessions, we learned that good collaboration and communication was crucial to maintaining organisation in the sessions. We achieved this through emails and follow-ups to delegate tasks, running smooth and successful sessions with the children, tackling learning outcome 5.
I chose to do the Lighthouse Motor Skills Service as I am very passionate about helping people and learning to interact with people from different backgrounds from me. In the service, we work with children that have visual and hearing impairments and play games with them. Our objectives are to help the children have fun and to be able to develop different skills in order to make the most of our time with the children. will be addressing LO2 as I will be developing new skills to learn how to communicate in new ways. One example of this is through sign language. We have been given several sessions to plan out our activities with the children and we have also been learning basic sign language to make the children feel more comfortable. This form of communication is definitely challenging and will require continuos practice which I intend to do. Furthermore, there is other important non-verbal communication skills that I must develop. For example, presenting myself in a friendly manner, giving off good body language appearing approachable will all enable me to more successfully communicate with the children.
As leader of the service, I feel it important to set a good example for my fellow volunteers. One of the ways I will do this is through spending time to learn and adapt to the new forms of communication mentioned above. Being the leader is something that will be a new challenge to me (LO2), but I look forward to developing this skill with the help of my peers and guiding teacher.
Another very important aspect to this service will be collaboration. We will have to work together with each other to produce interactive games for the children. It will be upon us to then receive feedback from the teachers of Lighthouse School in order to adapt and alter our activities to ensure they are engaged. I foresee this being a challenge as there will be so many people involved in the ‘team’ which will make it challenging to achieve common goals.