Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Social Butterfly or Wall Flower?

Swallowtail butterfly
(Photo credit: Jupiter Images)
In a learning environment, would you classify yourself as a social butterfly or a wallflower? 

Many of you may immediately jump to whether or not you classify yourself as an extrovert (social butterfly) or introvert (wallflower). Although a viable jump, where I am really going with this post is whether or not you engage in your learning experience and get all that you can out of the experience. I contend we have wallflowers, social butterflies, and mixes thereof in our learning environments.

The Wallflower
The wallflower is an inactive participant in the learning process. A more introverted learner, they sit by themselves--generally in the very back--and rarely, if ever, voluntarily contribute to discussions. Wallflowers tend to be good listeners and great note takers, but not good group spokespersons. At their most introverted, the extreme wallflower can impede the learning process when group work is involved.

The Social Butterfly
Social butterflies have a tendency to flit are all over the learning space. These individuals are more focused social interactions than on learning. They may or may not do what is required to get the passing grade or certificate of completion. At their most extroverted, this learner impedes the learning process so much that they are asked to flit elsewhere.

The Social Wallflower
The social wallflower is someone who may put on the facade of a social butterfly but associates well with the wallflower. These butterflies do exactly what is required of them, but may be uncomfortable doing things like speaking or group interaction. However, they tend to hang back until approached and fail to capitalize on the hidden benefit of the learning experience--the ability to network with others and make use of their contacts beyond the learning experience. These individuals blend right in and may be difficult to identify.

The Flower Butterfly
Flower butterflies are the ideal learners and socialites. They have the right mix of social aptitude and networking skills. These individuals work well by themselves or in group situations. They have the unique ability to create cohesive groups because, as Goldilocks would say they are "just right." They acknowledge the hidden benefit of an engagement with others and maintain quality networks of support far beyond the learning environment. These individuals make learning count both in the learning environment and well beyond.


Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge
Establishing support networks allows a leader to surround themselves with people willing to support their endeavors. No leader has all the answers or will experience everything there is to know about the leadership environment. Being able to call up those who have had a similar learning experience or who can listen is a great gift.

  • Reassess yourself using my definitions. 
  • How do you interact in your learning environments?
  • What does the way you learn say about your command presence?
  • What can you do differently at your next learning opportunity?
About the Author:
Pam McDonald is a writer/editor for BLM Wildland Fire Training and Workforce Development and member of the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee. The expressions are those of the author.

No comments: