Monday, November 15, 2010

Team Building & Social Support

Case #1: In the first case study proposed I am teaching a middle school physical education class for seventh graders.  The students in the class are a diverse group of boys and girls with varying interests and skill levels.  My goal with these students is to use team building strategies to increase group effectiveness by enhancing group cohesiveness.
Case #2: In the second case study proposed I’m an instructor for an older adults exercise program at the senior center in your community.  The participants in this exercise program come to the center three times a week for one hour sessions that include individual exercises like weights, machines, and stretching, as well as group instruction.  As the instructor of this exercise program it’s my goals to use social support strategies and foster social support among group members.
Case #1: Team building is a method on helping the group increase effectiveness, satisfy the needs of its members, or improve work conditions with the overall aim being to increase group effectiveness by enhancing group cohesiveness.  Team building can be characterized as team enhancement for both task and social purpose (Gill & Williams, 2008).  It can be reduced to five categories including: distinctiveness, individual positions, group norms, individual sacrifices, and interaction and communication.  When working with these students my plan will implement these five categories of team building to increase group effectiveness.
Case #2: Social support refers to the number of friends, relatives, or social involvements and conceptually as denoting a vague sense of belongingness or acceptance.  More simply put, social support is the exchange of resources between at least two individuals perceived by the provider or the recipient to be intended to enhance the well-being of the recipient (Gill & Williams, 2008). There are three broad types of social support including: direct assistance (tangible support), advice (informational support), and encouragement (emotional support).  These three types can be reduced even further to 8 forms of social support.  When working with the individuals in the senior exercise program my plan will implement these eight forms of social support.
NOW WHAT:  For both case studies proposed I would begin by helping each individual develop their own performance goals to increase their commitment to the programs.  I’d encourage them to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, which can be reevaluated at any time and changed based on progress.  S.M.A.R.T., which stands for smart, measurable, achievable, realistic, achievable, realistic, and timely, is an acronym for a number of ideal criteria that should be considered when setting fitness goals (Siegert, Richard, and Williams, 2004).
Case #1: After helping each individual establish his/her own performance goals I would sit down with them and get to know each of them better as an individual.  I’d make it my goal to find out something special about each individual.  Next I would sit all the students down at once and help them establish group goals.  For these students their group goal could to all get the Presidential Physical Fitness Award at the end of the school year.  This is a good way of developing pride in group membership, team commitment, and a sense of team identity.  Another way to develop these aspects is making t-shirts that the students can wear during the physical education class.  All of these are examples of the first team building category, distinctiveness.  The next thing I would do with these students is put them through a simple workout to identify the high, moderate, and low skill level exercisers.  This is a good example of both the second and third team building categories, individual positions and group norms.   I may even have the most experienced exercisers lead individual workout sessions or have them help less experienced exercisers.  This is an example of the forth team building category, individual sacrifices.  After I’ve divided the class into each skill level I’d begin the program, continually evaluating the overall group goals and each individuals goals.  I’d also have periodic group meetings to discuss how things are progressing, which a great example of the last team building category, interaction and communication.  By implementing these team building techniques I can reach my goal of increasing group effectiveness by enhancing group cohesiveness.
Case #2: Like case study #1 after helping each individual establish his/her own performance goals I would sit down with them and get to know each of them better as an individual.  I’d make it my goal to find out something special about each individual.  It’s my goal implement the eight forms of social support into my exercise program for this group.  The first of these forms is listening support, which is when others listen without giving advice or being judgmental.  The second form of social support is emotional support, which is when others comfort and care for you and indicate they are on your side.  The third form is emotional challenge, which is when others challenge you to evaluate your attitudes, values, and feelings.  These first three forms can be implemented during sit down sessions with each individual separately or as a group.  The forth form of social support is task appreciation, which is when others acknowledge your efforts and express appreciation for the work you do. Task appreciation can be as simple as verbally acknowledging an individual for reaching fitness goals.  The fifth form is task challenge, which is when others challenge your way of thinking about your work in order to stretch you, motivate you, and lead you to greater creativity, excitement, and involvement.  An example of this is when motivating an individual, which will lead to greater involvement.  The sixth form is reality confirmation, which is when others are similar to you, see things the way you do, and help you confirm your perception of the world.  The seventh form is tangible assistance, which is when others provide you with financial assistance, products, or gifts. This could be as simple as rewarding individuals with t-shirts or other tangible rewards after reaching his/her fitness goals.  The last form of social support is personal assistance, which is when others provide services or help, such as running errands or offering expertise, to help you accomplish your tasks.  By implementing these forms of social support the members in my exercise program at the senior center will feel comfortable and confident.
CONCLUSION: Social support and team building techniques can be extremely effective in sports and exercise.  The two can enhance physical activity for all those involved in many ways including developing group cohesiveness and effectiveness.  By implementing the forms of social support and team building a health professional such as ourselves can help all individuals and groups effectively reach their fitness goals.
Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champain, IL: Human Kinetics
Siegert, Richard, and William Taylor. "Theoretical aspects of goal-setting and motivation in rehabilitation." Disability and Rehabilitation 26.1 (2004): 1-8. Print.

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