English is a minor language in Thailand but is increasingly important. As a community service volunteer, I helped lead an effort to teach English to children to provide them with improved opportunities. To begin, I delegated responsibilities to volunteer teachers, assigning roles based on English skills and other personality traits to help get the most from lessons. However, some volunteer teachers were unenthusiastic. To engage all volunteers, I called everyone together and discussed how I felt this was a significant self-development opportunity, where volunteers could develop new skills like teaching, public speaking and motivating others. Ultimately, most agreed to participate willingly. I next helped establish clear objectives and involved other volunteers by asking them to write down what they felt were appropriate goals and then holding a vote on the most important ones. Our first lesson went well, but the children's attention faded. We had failed to engage the children sufficiently. Additionally, several volunteer members were still being uncooperative. Solving the volunteer problem first, I re-framed our objectives for the uncooperative volunteers, informing them that their goal was to act as English-speaking role models for the children. Agreeing on the importance of positive role models, they resolved to improve. Switching to the problem of student engagement, I observed one group's successful lessons and surmised that friendly competitions and activities may boost children's engagement. We quickly created games about English concepts where children competed for small prizes, helping us re-gain momentum. My time spent as a volunteer English teacher helped me understand that leaders give their best where they have their best to give. Effective delegation means assigning roles with a view towards achieving end goals, and I learned to match skillsets with tasks and identify and communicate learning opportunities for others. In unpredictable situations, the only certainty is uncertainty, and I improved at using adaptive responses to handle unpredictability and creatively solve problems. Enthusiasm levels vary. I learned to make the most of the resources I had, a lesson I tried to impart on the children we were teaching, and one I plan to incorporate in future leadership activities.
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