The relationship between participation, community, investment and is complex, and I created a flow chart in attempt to organize my thoughts. I think I’m going to have to submit that in a separate post because I’m having some difficulty. Hopefully, I can get that posted immediately following this.
Anyway, I have several thoughts about participation, community, and investment:
1. It could point us toward some potential trouble-shooting ideas. Have a participation issue in the classroom? Try to boost student investment by incorporating subject matter that’s important to students. Don’t have a community of learners? Get students involved. Collaboration and team activities can begin to build community. It can also be helpful to take a couple minutes every day to play fun games to help students get used to participating. Even if the games aren’t “academic,” it’s a worthwhile investment in the health of your community. Have low participant investment? Bolster the community (here’s something for science and math teachers and those who work with the big kids).
2. It reminds me of your post, Kelly. Welcome to group fitness! It all starts with that first session. It only took one time for you to feel the pull of your Zumba community, and it sounds like you’re already developing a sense of investment. You’ll go back next week, the week after that, and the cycle will become more entrenched as depth of participation, community, and investment increases. The same thing happened to me with Pump, Combat, and a few others. Within months, my fitness routine (which started out light and with no knowledge of form or function) became a part of me. Now, a few years in, I am living the cycle in that chart; all three factors influence me and propel me to continue. I don’t always love everything I do in class, but I keep going because of the depth and strength of community, investment, and participation.
This morning, as I rode my bike in cycling class, I thought about the beginning of your journey and how it sounds so similar to mine. I was that new person, but now I’m the veteran helping new people and considering becoming certified to teach. We all have the capacity to grow within our roles as participants, and really, we’re never the same participant. Because when you go back on Tuesday, you know what to expect. You’ve seen the moves and met the people. It will be easier. And when I go back on Sunday, I have a few areas where I need to challenge myself more. All participants undergo a continual, fluid transformation.
3. It also reminds me of your post, Lizzy. I completely relate to your experience with field hockey. I have a very similar situation with soccer (all through high school, my mom brought fruit and post-game snacks for the team, too…such a great memory!). I love your point about being on a team. Although I find group fitness super motivating and supportive, there’s something special about adding that extra layer of competing towards a shared goal because teammates have a high level of interdependence. When I belong to a team, I don’t simply participate. Rather, I want to have a tangible, positive effect on my team. I want to score, assist, tackle – basically anything that helps my team towards a win.
Teams create a special kind of investment because it hurts to not participate meaningfully. That happened to me Wednesday night. I stubbornly insisted on completing my regular Wednesday night workout prior to my soccer game, and when I got on the field, I had nothing in the tank. I felt like I was running around wasting space, and that bothered me to no end. It ate at me to not positively affect the game. I felt a sense of personal responsibility and the feeling like I was letting others down, people who depended on me. I am itching for my next game, my chance at redemption. Perhaps classroom competitions and maybe even “gamifying” the classroom can foster a similar sense of interdependence, collaboration, and motivation among participants.