Centennial H.S. Calgary has three Student Leadership classes each semester. These are a combination of our Gr. 10 or Sr. classes (gr. 11s and 12s). At the beginning of each semester we go away for a day with those classes to get to know each other better, receive leadership training, and set the direction for the semester. Our experience at Centennial has shown that our students progress so much that day. It used to take us 2-3 weeks of classes to achieve the same results.
What a typical Centennial Leadership Retreat looks like:
1. Mixers and Energizers – get them up and moving, meeting new people, and feeling excited about the day – you can find lots of great resources for these at the Canadian Student Leadership Association website – https://studentleadership.ca/
2. Spirit Groups – divide them as evenly as you can between boys and girls, grades, and mixing the classes – have them introduce themselves to each other and do some mixer activities with each other – then have them introduce themselves to the whole group
3. Leadership Lesson – have them doing something active which teaches a Leadership lesson that will serve you well that semester.
4. Lunch – We are within walking distance of several fast food restaurants. We give them a longer lunch than they get during a regular school day. It is important for them to spend time together. We make sure that everyone is included and no one is left behind.
5. Afternoon energizers – you need to get them engaged after lunch. This year we started with a modified rock, paper, scissors activity followed by the annual Garbage Bag Fashion Show. We provide each spirit group with a number of garbage bags. They dress up their model and have them strut the catwalk. One year we didn’t do this and were told never to make that mistake again.
6. The Big Leadership Idea – You need to teach them something of significance about Leadership. Everything you have done up to this point leads up to this moment. We discussed 16 Leadership traits and debated which one is the most important. Lots of great discussion about what is most important as a leader.
If you don’t hold retreats consider adding them to your program. They don’t have to be overnight or complicated. A day away works for us. If you do retreat keep up the good work!
done up todone done so far in the day is getting them ready for this. This year we compared 16 different Leadership traits. Students voted and debated which one was the most important of the 16. If you don’t do retreats consider adding this to your program. They don’t have to be complex overnight affairs. A day away works for us. If you are on the retreat bandwagon then keep it up. W
A student came to me yesterday and asked if she could speak to me outside of class. As we went out she started to cry. Her grandfather had passed away the day before and that is why she was away from school. She wanted to tell me that when she came back that morning she found a note in her locker that said “The best is yet to come!” from The Coyote (our school mascot). She then told me how this short note had made her day and wanted me to thank the leadership class responsible. I share this story with her permission.
One of our Sr. Leadership classes came up with the idea to put a positive note in each student’s locker this week from the Coyote. I thought it sounded like a great idea. Who knew the impact it would have on this student. It made me think that the positive things we do in schools do make a difference in a way that sometimes we never know. Keep on doing what you do.
Here are some samples of the student notes:
Think positive and positive things will happen
The best is yet to come
Enjoy the little things in life … for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things
So much to study, so little time (we feel you) GOOD LUCK ON FINALS!
If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re probably right
You have to accept whatever comes; the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and give all that you’ve got
If plan A fails remember you have 25 letters left
Your’re just like bacon, you make everything better! (one of my favourites)
Remember the compliments you receive and forget the insults, you’re awesome
As a leadership advisor / PE Teacher / Coach / Dad / Husband I am faced with many demands on my time. I am sure this sounds familiar to many of you. I returned from the Canadian Student Leadership Conference in Kelowna last week. For conference highlights check out my Twitter feed or Facebook page. As a result of being gone for a week I was very behind at work with lots of deadlines to deal with. Special Ed plans had to be submitted, marking done, field trip forms filled out, and marks entered online among many other things. On top of that I was exhausted and emotionally a little drained after such a great experience in Kelowna. So after an unproductive Monday I started to chip away.
On Friday I arrived very early to get stuff done. About 30 minutes in two leadership students came into my office to pick something up. We started to visit and 30 minutes later I had got to know them better and maybe even taught them a couple of things. Now I was 30 minutes behind on my job list. Later that day in PE I had a student not changed and not wanting to participate. Instead of losing my mind on him and then moving on to the next thing I took some time to talk to him. The class activity allowed for me to sit with him and I learned about some of the big challenges he is facing. I believe these two conversations were the best things I did as a teacher that day.
We are faced with big demands on our time. We have to constantly choose between good things. I am working on putting people before forms getting completed etc. My goal is to keep trying to put people first and drop doing something good for something better!
On Sept. 9 Calgary woke up to about 3 inches of snow. I may live in the Great White North but this was too much! We had our Leadership kickoff retreat happening that day. One of the activities that day was happening on the field. So we adjusted. If it snows, make snowmen! Something that seemed like a downer turned out to be awesome. The students had so much fun seeing who could make the best snowman. There were some pretty creative snowmen. The best part is the great memories we made that day.
We will be taking this picture and putting it on a poster with the caption “If it snows, make snowmen!” and hanging it in the leadership classroom. What started out as kind of depressing now is a part of our program’s culture and history.
So here is hoping it doesn’t snow too soon on you, but if it does, make snowmen!
I had an amazing, unexpected experience last week. I was out mowing the front lawn when a truck drove by and I saw someone give me the quick sideways look. The truck turned around and two large men got out. It was Travis and Dan, members of my first Leadership class at Centennial, who graduated in 2008. For the next hour we shared stories and memories about all the things they had done in Leadership at Centennial. Some things I knew about and some I was hearing about for the first time.
One of them is an Arctic pilot and the other is studying accounting.
I was on a high the rest of the day. It was so great that they stopped to talk and shared with me how much they enjoyed their time in Leadership. It reminded me why I teach Leadership. It can change kids lives.
So if you sometimes wonder why you work with kids keep it up because you never know the impact you are having.
Have a great summer!
Last Tuesday and Wednesday Centennial held a Car Smash to raise money to purchase a wig for one of our students fighting cancer. A great success for three reasons:
1. A Grade 10 student was the driving force behind the activity. It was her idea and contact that got us the car. She led the committee that planned, advertised, and carried out the activity. She also had an huge smile on her face as the activity went great.
2. Lots of students, some who had not participated in a leadership activity before, got involved. They had fun and raised lots of money for a great cause. They cheered each other on with big smashes and encouraged those who missed to take another shot.
3. Admin Involvement – Our Principal also took some mighty swings. There were more cheers for him than anyone else. One student shouted out “Put the fear of God in us Dr. Christison!” while he was swinging. Our Principal led by example and students connected with him. It reminded me how important Admin support is for a successful Student Leadership program. We are fortunate to have an Admin team that okayed the activity and supported it and other activities throughout the year.
Be sure to take the opportunity to build positive relationships with your Admin team. Make sure they know what is happening, are comfortable, and that there are no surprises. If something unplanned does happen (this is Student Leadership so that is inevitable) go with full disclosure and work together to solve the problem. Don’t forget to give thanks and show appreciation for the many things they do.
Take a risk – Smash a Car!
I am continually amazed at the Tech abilities of my leadership students. This week I was either hacked or spammed on Twitter. I had no idea, but Ethan the Leadership All Star texted me and warned what happened. My reply was thanks, what do I do now. He texted me through it and all is good.
In class I was impressed by Nicole’s iPad skills as we were constructing some things for a Leadership project. I realized I am barely scratching the surface of what I can do with my iPad. I made her promise to give me a tutorial when things calm down a bit.
What do I offer in return? I try to give digital citizenship advice and provide mentorship regarding the activities we offer and promote online.
I love to learn new things and I think it builds the skills of our students to go to them and use their expertise.
I was sharing some tech knowledge with some friends my age and they were impressed by my skills. They wanted to know how I had figured all this out. I told them I go to my tech Yodas, my Leadership students.
Centennial’s Sr. Leadership Class put on an amazing pep rally Friday. So proud of my students. Here is the video they showed.
We used CSLA’s new facepaint product and it really added to the buzz and spirit of the Rally. I recommend it. You can buy it here: http://casaa.myshopify.com/collections/face-paint
I am excited to start up this blog dealing with the world of Student Leadership. I have been involved as an advisor for 15 years and have also had the opportunity to speak with students and Advisors across Canada.
Brent is married to the amazing Krista and is the proud father of four boys.
-has taught Student Leadership in B.C. and Alberta for over 15 years
-presented in schools and conferences across Canada
-current Alberta Director for the Canadian Student Leadership Association
– previously served as President of The Alberta Association of Student Councils and Advisors (AASCA)
-currently teaching Leadership and P.E. and is the Department Head of Student Leadership at Centennial High School in Calgary, Alberta
-also the Varsity Boys Basketball Coach and a certified Link Crew coordinator at Centennial
– Centennial hosted the Alberta High School Leadership conference in May, 2009 – Brent’s schools have also hosted the Jr. High and the Advisor’s Alberta conferences
-Canadian Student Leadership Association Leader of Distinction Award September 2012
-Alberta Excellence in Teachng Award Finalist 2004
-Centennial Basketbal teams coached by Brent have won City Championships and competed at Alberta Provincials