Bouncing Around the Room

October 15, 2011

It comes naturally to me to be very physical in my facilitation of large groups.  I give cues with my whole body, I end songs by making clear physical gestures with my legs and arms, I stomp, march, crouch, jump, glide, squat, dance and stretch when I’m leading and because of this, it is much clearer to the participants what the rhythms are, where the dynamic changes are, and when the tempo changes.  People who are observing my groups are usually very impressed with the ability of group members (who sometimes have advanced dementia) to end on cue and to follow tempo changes.  I’m impressed as well, but the skill is not what we gear sessions toward, and what’s most impressive is the ability for residents to be completely focused on a task that is sometimes foreign to them, and for several minutes.

Howevah…their focus and ability to follow cues is only possible if I am cuing them well, and usually in a 17+ person group that is only possible if I am moving around quite a bit.  With smaller groups, my movements don’t have to be quite so obvious, but in a large group, the aim is to be physical enough so that even if someone isn’t directly looking at me, they’ll be able to peripherally get the cue anyway.

Not only am I very energetic in my physical facilitation, but I also am responsible for making sure that clients are redirected and reengaged when they begin to get distracted or start to doze off.  So…in the middle of all of my bouncing around the room, I also have to give individual attention to each of the residents who happen to be losing their focus. This is hard.  Like, not only emotionally and mentally hard, but also physically tasking.  I make sure I wear comfortable clothing (usually) so I’m able to move around without feeling like constricted, and I usually dress in layers, so even if the temperature changes from location to location, I’m always (at least) as comfortable as I can possibly be.  Some days, however, this does not matter.  One of those days was yesterday.

Don't let this be you.

I wore jeans to my first group (I take advantage of “casual Friday” whenever possible) and a short sleeved cotton shirt.  Unfortunately, it was very very warm and humid in the facility and by the middle of my bouncy session, I had beads of sweat (this rarely happens) dripping down my face, and my jeans felt like they had been plastered to my legs.  My shower that morning was completely negated, but what can you do?

Note to self (and to all of you who lead large groups and are also very physically active while doing so): Don’t wear jeans to work, unless they’re the stretchy kind and it’s also winter.  Dress in layers as often as possible.  Don’t spend a lot of time drying and styling your hair, or just put it up.  Open windows.

The end.

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