Hello and welcome to November's Chiefs’ Chat!
This month our three Chief Commissioners share their top tips for virtual guiding
Hello everyone, and I hope that you are all managing well in this second lockdown. I always try to look on the bright side of things - I think that the song from “The Life of Brian” might have been written with me in mind, that and “You will always find me in the kitchen at parties”!!! So, feeling positive one of the good things we have been able to experience this year is the sharing of so much good news via social media and online calls. The partnership with Children in Need has been such a good example of all the fantastic things so many of you have been doing and it has been great every day to see the latest contribution on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and whilst I don’t want to single anyone out, Linda’s 77 campfire songs has been an absolute delight and has made me smile every day - I think we need to save these for posterity and allow everyone to share with their girls – we could all have a virtual meeting as a sing-a-long! Of course, so much other than Act Your Age has taken place too with lots of ‘events’ now online and lots of challenges happening across the region.
Recently I was presented with the opportunity of joining the leadership team of a new Rainbow unit. It is a long time since I was a Rainbow leader, but I did really enjoy it and I have been delighted to go back. We started a few weeks ago and of course have only been able to do Zoom meetings so far. All of the girls are really excited to be part of the Zoom meetings and have joined in with every activity, as indeed has my 4-year-old grandson who was with me on a couple of occasions. Our intrepid leader, Helen, has wandered around our homes on the Sunday before our Wednesday meeting with an envelope containing the bits needed for crafts, we have made a peg doll, a black cat fridge magnet and a sparkler straw for Guy Fawkes night so far. We have had a visit from Guide Leader Lyn Roberts to do Laughter Yoga, the girls have each told five jokes for Act your Age and I am really looking forward to a visit from a goat!! The girls are so keen they have bought their Rainbow uniform and are proudly wearing it for each meeting. We are only meeting for half an hour, which is probably enough for them but so far it is going really well. There are lots of ideas through our website, Girlguiding Adventures At Home and I am sure there is lots of support available in your own Counties - all you have to do is ask, and if you haven’t tried yet, give it a go if you can!
I hope by the time you are reading this we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel but we have all shown that true Girlguiding spirit even if we have had to look hard for it at times. Remember we promise to do our best and I know you are all doing that every day. Stay strong!
In the summer term we had sent out things to our Rainbows for them to do but did not try to set up virtual meetings following feedback from parents. With the start of the autumn term, and the children returning to school, we felt it was now time to start virtual meetings. My fellow leader for the unit does not have a lot of experience with virtual meetings (or computers for that matter) – however, our Young Leader has been a great help and her confidence is infectious. It was also good to see another leader coming to one of our meetings and as a result is now running her own virtual meetings.
There has been quite a bit of preparation and adaptation – and we keep learning as we go along. Some things we have sent out the Rainbows can do in their own time and some we will do together in the meeting. Being able to award the first badges has been a real positive - and has encouraged the other Rainbows.
We have now established a pattern of preparing the activities at the weekend to be distributed to the Rainbows ready for the Thursday meeting. This week we will be planting daffodil bulbs so the delivery included a plant pots; things to decorate the pot with; daffodil bulbs and soil! We have suggested newspaper or something similar will be needed for the activity.
Five Rainbows have moved up to Brownies – and we have some new Rainbows in the group. We are planning a Promise Party for four Rainbows in the next couple of weeks (thinking about hair decorations as one of the activities!) The next big challenge is the waiting list!
I would simply say to anyone with reservations about starting virtual meetings find a unit doing them and join their meeting. For my unit, we also had a practice with just the leaders to make sure we all knew how the technology worked! It’s natural to be a bit nervous but all you need to do is the best you can!
A week into our second national lockdown, and, to no-one’s surprise at all, it’s the same thing keeping my spirits high as the first-time round – virtual meetings! The only difference now is that I’m already well versed in the art of keeping a ‘zoomful’ of Brownies and Guides happy and occupied. My units have definitely had our fair share of struggles - from getting enough of the girls engaged in the beginning, to screensharing quiz answers before the questions and drawing a blank on new activity ideas in our planning meetings. That being said, I think I’ve still got some useful tips I can share!
Still aim to be girl led. Even though we’re not face to face so the girls can’t physically browse through and pick the UMAs and Skills Builders, I’ve still made sure that we involve everyone in the planning. Every half term we ask the girls what they’ve really enjoyed and what really wasn’t their favourite, and they’ve shared what they’d like to do more of as well as any new ideas they have. It’s not only really important that girls can voice their thoughts, it’s also genuinely helpful for giving you ideas to plan an exciting virtual programme you can be sure everyone will love!
Sometimes a simple scavenger hunt is the best shout. Of course it’s important that our virtual meetings are providing a varied programme, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a few scavenger hunts thrown in here and there. They seem to have gotten a slightly bad reputation over the course of virtual guiding, but they’re fun, they can be as short or as long as you want, and the girls LOVE them. As long as my Brownies keep asking for scavenger hunts, I’ll keep delivering!
Be as interactive as possible. Whilst some activities are clearly suited to being completed individually, with the girls holding up their work at the end, we’ve found that interactive whiteboards, polls and quizzes are a great way to make sure everyone is taking part as much as possible. We’ve been using the Zoom whiteboard and polls feature in our virtual meetings for a while, but have also recently started using IdeasBoardz and Kahoot. For an activity where you’d want girls to write on post-it notes if you were face to face, IdeasBoardz is a great virtual alternative and I think the novelty actually encourage everyone to contribute more than normal! For me, Kahoot quizzes are a throwback to A-Level Chemistry where the majority of lessons would involve the earworm that is the Kahoot theme tune, but more recently they’ve become a staple in my virtual Guide meetings. You can make your own Kahoot quizzes on any theme you want, so you could do a fun general knowledge quiz or tie it into another part of your meeting. I made the UK Parliament Week quiz into a Kahoot and my Guides engaged with it much more than they would have done if it had been pen and paper!
I hope these hints and tips are useful and make their way into your own virtual meetings, whether you’re just starting virtual guiding now in lockdown 2, or whether you’ve been Zooming since March. Equally, if you have your own top tips that you think are worth sharing, we’d love to hear them – I’m always on the lookout for new ways to up my Zoom game!
We hope you enjoyed catching up with us again this month. As always, you can find us on Twitter, where you can ping us any questions or simply share all of the incredible work that you are doing.
Julie, Kathryn, and Emma.