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Building a Team: Canvas Well-Being Project

When I was younger, my mom used to warn my grade school teacher that I didn’t work well with others. I was a bossy seven year-old, and I’m sure there are people out there that would call me a bossy twenty year-old. I still don’t like group projects because they often come with vague instructions, expectations of a cohesive group, and the uncertainty of relying on people who are strangers to you. In college, the stress is worsened by trying to coordinate the chaotic schedules of group members. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I registered for ALA170– I definitely didn’t know it would be focused on a group project. On the first day of class, I made my priority habit to be “Build a Team” because I knew it would be a challenge for me.

It didn’t start off great. Whereas most groups left their first class with someone semblance of an idea, we left with nothing. Not even a date and time for when we would meet next. I was skeptical about how a group, comprised of four aspiring-leaders, would be able to interact in a productive way. We all had ideas and passions, which overlapped in general themes but not in the specifics that we need to develop a project idea. The night before the next day of class, we held another round of brainstorming and ended up with what would be our Plan A.

Luckily for us, Plan A was the plan we would end up executing. Spoiler Alert: We wouldn’t reach all of our goals and the project certainly didn’t happen without some stress and unexpected bumps. Unluckily for us, most of these bumps came the day of our project. In my mind, I was going to be able to carry fourteen dozen donuts across town. As I walked into Washtenaw Dairy and saw my order, I immediately started to panic. My other group members were in class, I had no car, and there was no way that I was going to be able to make it even a block away from the dairy. I quickly called an Uber and was rescued by a lovely driver named Janet. We filled the backseat of her car with boxes of donuts and made it to my next location with plenty of time to spare.

The next challenge was transporting the donuts over the course of the next hour to
where other supplies had to be picked up. I was still alone, waiting for my group members to join me. I went to Angell Hall, my arms stacked high with donuts, and found a spare cart in an astronomy lab. Then I made the mistake of shutting the door on my way out. I had just stolen the cart and now returning it would be a challenge. On my way to meet Noah to pick up the next round of supplies, I called a friend with access to the lab and explained my predicament. He promised to be there in an hour to help me return the cart– the problem was solved. Once we were set up at Haven Hall, everything was smooth sailing. I calmed down from my initial donut-induced panic, enjoying the time with my group as we handed out donuts in exchange for survey responses. We even got to take our picture with Reggie!

Although we didn’t reach our goal of 200 survey responses, we gained valuable feedback and I learned that no matter how much you plan, you still have to expect the unexpected. Reflecting back on the last six weeks with my group, I realize I’ve just gotten started
with the habit of “Build a Team”. It took sitting at a table for two hours with my team to learn that they are really into the Marvel movies. I also learned that with any project, your team also includes your community and stakeholders. Without my Uber driver Janet, I would have struggled to carry 14 dozen donuts from Washtenaw Dairy to Haven Hall. Without my friends in the Astronomy department, I wouldn’t have been able to borrow the cart that helped us make it to the Posting Wall in time. By engaging with Wolverine Wellness and the Central Student Government’s Mental Health Task-force, I learned that many of the resources offered to students on campus are student-driven and student-developed. And without Noah, Elva, and Leo, I don’t think I would have been able to say that I, with my horrible history with group projects, truly enjoyed working with my team.

By: Alexandra Wormley

SustainabiliTEAM

On Thursday, November 30th, our project group SustainabiliTEAM created a successful tabling event that educated people on simple, easy ways to be more environmentally sustainable in their daily life. This event also produced a visual representation of the impact the event had on the campus community with the SustainabiliTREE. So, we ended up accomplishing what we set out to do. The event accomplished the central goals we originally set: educating and promoting sustainable habits on campus. The way that we ended up fulfilling these goals, however, was completely different to the original vision. Our original vision was to create a video educating students on simple environmentally sustainable habits. This video never got past the planning stage, as we quickly realized it was an unrealistic goalª and, we scaled down our project to a tabling event that produced the same results we expected from the video.

Three BLI Leadership Habits that were essential to our project include Start Where You Are, Collect, Combine, Create, and Start Small.

  • Start Where You Are: Where we were in the beginning of the course and the connections we had, it just wasn’t feasible for our video. We found that the resources we had could be the start of an event or smaller project, and began to formulate that instead.
  • Collect, Combine, Create: We all came into this project with a lot of new ideas and different backgrounds. All of our strengths came together to formulate this project, and we were able to work through each other’s weaknesses. Our project was successful.
  • Start Small: We had started with a huge goal of implementing a sustainability video on campus. This was unrealistic for our time. So we scrapped this idea and started small, with a more realistic goal that could be accomplished.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.14.21 PMThe most important challenge our team faced was coming up with a realistic plan that would still fulfill our goal in educating students on how to be more environmentally sustainable on and off campus. We started off with an unrealistic goal in mind, but through feedback from others, self-reflection, and group discussion, we formed a cohesive achievable target that satisfied the bottom line we set while including unique aspects. With our collected ideas and rational thinking, our tabling event went smoothly and fast-paced as anticipated.

We had a positive group dynamic. Our team worked well together and ran into few internal complications. We met every Sunday to discuss our progress and what steps need to be taken. We had additional weekly gatherings as needed. For example, members of our team met to speak to stakeholders and make posters during times outside weekly meetings. The most significant change we could make to improve effectiveness would be devoting more individual time on the project outside of these meetings. We were all effective when working together, but if we could have completed more of the tasks on our own time, which would have left more room for productivity and growth during our group meetings.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.14.31 PMWe had a few setbacks in the planning stage of our project. After getting told that our initial idea would likely not work we did not know what to do. We had to change our idea quickly because time kept moving even though we did not want it to. When we came up with the idea of a tabling event in Mason Hall, we knew that we had hit a good idea. I think that we learned about flexibility and how to get up after you knocked down. We evaluated the success of our project through how many paint chips we had on the tree and how quickly we ran out of doughnuts. The next steps for our team is to continue utilizing all that we have learned about leadership and working in groups in our everyday lives. This lab has served as a valuable stepping stone for each of us to learn effective leadership strategies while practicing them in our everyday lives. As for our project, we successfully created an awesome educational project that we will continue to promote. Sustainability is a very important topic, and with our knowledge on the subject we will be able to teach the importance of it to others.

By: Olivia Chan, Laci Duvernois, Allyssa Garza, Charles Jones III, Katie Kubityskey, and Maddie Topping

Team Diversity – Bias Incident Reporting

Our original vision called for a student maintained response system to bias incidents on campus, but we quickly realized that this was not realistic for our time constraint. We then decided to simply focus on the University’s bias incident reporting log. After realizing that none of us actually knew how to report a bias incident to the university, we made this the focus of our project. We partnered with Expect Respect and held a successful tabling event that taught students how to identify a bias incident and all the ways to report it to the University. People were able to enjoy a free donut, take a flyer with all the information we gave them, and take swag (stickers, buttons, and bracelets) provided by Expect Respect. We sent out a survey before the event and learned that 76.9 % of students did not feel confident identifying a bias incident, and 50% of those students did not know how to report one to the University. After visiting our table, 84.1% felt confident they could identify a bias incident and 62.2% knew how to report an incident to the university. We were able to teach students how to report a bias incident in a short amount of time and make a small positive impact for diversity in our campus community.

Three BLI Leadership Habits that guided our project were “Start Small,” “Build a Team,” and “Collect, Combine, Create.” Initially, we found that it was difficult to find a project that was small enough to have a big impact on the community. Once we completely changed our project, we were able to better collect our thoughts, combine as a team, and create a project that would benefit the student population. In our weekly meetings, we welcomed new ideas and combined our visions of a successful project. Finally, we were able to build a team, not only within our immediate group, but the community at large. We partnered with Expect Respect to develop a project that increased awareness on what a bias incident is and how to report it.

One of the biggest challenges that we faced was that our issue was quite broad, and knowing our time and resources were a bit limited, we needed to rethink our initial idea. Thus, we opted to develop a plan in which a meaningful impact can be made but just executed on a smaller scale. Since our initial plan was ambitious, we realized this soon enough and reconstructed our project idea to better meet the expectations set for us. As mentioned in the BLI habits that were exercised, we focused on starting small and developing a more realistic perspective to tackle the issue at hand, which was the lack of exposure to reporting bias incidents. After our event, this method proved to be successful as we were able to gather a significant amount of people to come by and grab a donut while learning how to report bias incidents!

Our team included people from three out of the four grade levels, and all different experiences at the University of Michigan. Our team really succeeded in collaborating because we are able to combine our different perspectives, and contribute each of our individual vision for what this project should look like, to make an end product we will all proud of. When we began working, we all had different ideas of what this project should look like, but by taking the time during our meeting to describe what we wanted to get out of this experience, we were able to make sure everyone’s ideas were equally represented. Other than that, everyone in our group were just kind to one another. The respect each member of the group gave to each other was part of the reason why our group had such an accepting climate: it was very comfortable to contribute new ideas. As opposed to what our group succeeded in, the primary area where our group struggled was finding a good time for us all to meet. It was really hard to all meet up at the same time since we had time-conflicting prior commitments. We ended up making it work in the end though by utilizing online messages software like GroupMe to communicate ideas.

As we were working on this project, our group gained many skills that were useful for personal development. We learned to inform other team members when problems arise such as schedule conflict and to give each other’s honest feedback. This allowed us to have an open and efficient communication in a group setting. We also learned to formulate a clear and practical goal that our group could accomplish in a limited time and resources which helped us develop a smart planning strategy for future projects. It was definitely hard to coordinate meeting times with not only the other team members but also our partner Expect Respect, but we learned to still be actively engaged through different means of communication and to be more flexible. The acquisition of these essential skills defines the success of our project.

The project was a great success, and as such, we are excited about potentially putting on this event again, potentially once or twice per semester. Since the logistical elements have now been figured out, it would not be too difficult to put this event on again, and we were able to successfully connect with a lot of students in a short time period. Moving forward, our team is considering continuing to work together and with BLI to sponsor this donut event once-twice per semester, but we also have individual goals within BLI. All of us are interested in continuing our leadership here in some capacity, whether than be through trips, the capstone, or potentially teaching the course next semester!

 

By: Devan O’Toole, Evie Winter, Mehrin Ahmed, Sophie Partington, Hannah Dang, and Ashya Smith