Leadership ran a fun activity as a de-stresser before exams this week. We brought in a children’s petting zoo at lunch time. There were sheep, goats, and bunnies. I wasn’t sure how it would go. We had a ton of kids come. Lots of smiles, pictures, and chatter on Instagram and Snapchat. One boy said “This is awesome, I want to take the goat home with me!” My favorite part was the smiles. I love it when an activity can make someone’s day a little better.
Give the Red and Green challenge a try this holiday season. If it is too late for this year maybe file it for next year. This idea came from a Canadian Student Leadership Conference I attended but I have no idea which one.
We invited all staff and students to participate. You come to our table at lunch in the cafeteria and we give you either a red or green card with a number on it. You then have a week to find the person with the same number in the opposite color. The two of you then come back to the sign up table and together fill out a simple questionairre that lets them get to know each other a bit better. Their names then go into a draw for a $50 gift certificate each at the local mall.
We are seeing posters like the above picture appearing around the school. There are many more postings on media as they are looking for each other. A simple way to make connections in your school. I would suggest that you have people come to sign up. That way they are actively seeking the other person. One time we handed them out to everyone. I felt bad for students who had a partner who didn’t care and threw out their card.
After watching Mark Scharenbroich’s Building Connections video with my Gr. 10 class we decided it was time to find a way to recognize the many international students in our school. Permanent flags were a bit too ambitious for us so the students decided to make maps of the different continents and show how many Coyotes were born in each country. Fortunately we were able to run a list off our student information program. This is another way for us to connect the dots and hopefully make students feel a part of Centennial. Shout out to my Gr. 10s who did an awesome job.
With a new administration we have had the opportunity to reevaluate some of the Leadership traditions we have at Centennail. For years we have put up student birthdays at our main entrance to the school. We would put up the month and then list all the student names with their first name and first initial of their last name to comply with our privacy rules. A new TV screen was put up where the birthdays were over the summer. The discussion included where we should display the birthdays and should we put them up at all. Here is a summary of what I wrote.
Anecdotal value of recognizing Birthdays and how it helps build connections and community at Centennial
- We have students in our school where their families don’t do anything for their birthday. I have spoken to students in this situation and have been told they appreciate having their name on the wall.
- Every time we put the Birthdays up, a 10 year tradition at Centennial, I see students coming by to find their name or their friend’s name.
- Through the years I have had students come up and tell me that we have missed their name. We quickly get their name up and report back. The most recent time I had this happen was last month. Ideally we wouldn’t miss a name but it does demonstrate that students notice and value seeing their name
There are things that I think don’t matter much and things that are a big deal. I believe that putting Birthdays up is a big deal. When we first started doing it I wouldn’t have said that. But I have seen the positive impact it has on our kids. I know it isn’t changing the world but it does make our school better. It is one thing that allows us to recognize and include every student in our building.
Good news, birthdays will continue to be displayed at Centennail. Keep on building those connections in your schools and lives.
I had the privilege of visiting four Saskatchewan schools in four days during my Spring Break with the CSLA Horizons tour. Our first stop was in Tisdale, SK, home of Brent Butt. (I’m a big Corner Gas fan) I had given my presentation and was just starting on lunch. The room was full, couldn’t see anywhere to sit, so I just found a spot in the corner. After a couple of minutes I was approached by one of the Star City Student Council members who asked me if I wanted to join them. Their teacher told me later that they saw me sitting by myself and decided to invite me over. We had a great conversation as I made some new friends and learned all about their small K-12 school. A little different from Centennial where I teach, 1800 students 10-12. It was the highlight of my day as I got to know them better.
You gotta love learning important leadership lessons from a Gr. 9 student. I could have extended myself sooner and sat with someone I didn’t know but I didn’t. That student was living leadership by inviting some older dude to come join them. Next time I am in a group I don’t know or I see someone who clearly doesn’t know anyone there I will think to myself, “What would the Gr. 9 Star City Superstars do?”
P.S. also discovered that Loverboy has a big concert happening in Tisdale this upcoming Canada Day … roadtrip anyone?
Last Friday we had a ton of Gr. 10 Leadership students come out to see our Jr. Girls basketball team beat Bishop Carroll 74-57. This took some effort on their part because it was on a Friday night and not at our school. What got them there? I bribed them. I offered them double points to go to the Championship game.
In our Leadership program we have a volunteering section where students earn points for the service they provide in a semester. Recently we added a component where in the semester they have to go to 4 Centennial Non-Leadership sponsored events. This could be a play, art gallery, concert, or sports event. They must wear their blue leadership t-shirts to show that we are supporting other school events.
On the day of the event I offered double points to go to the Championship. I bribed them. The stands were full of loud and proud blue shirts cheering on the team which three of their Leadership classmates were on. They had fun, we won, and they talked all about it on the Monday back in class. They now have another great memory of high school to look back on.
Below are the volunteer sheets and criteria we use at Centennial. Hopefully they are useful to you.
The stress that a Student Leadership advisor feels can be pretty intense right before a big student project, activity, pep rally etc. Quality project planning sheets can ease that stress. Attached are the planning sheets we use at Centennial for all our projects. We print them off on green paper and call them green sheets. I suggest you pick a color other than white so they stand out and everyone knows what they are talking about. Once you open the document here are some tips you may find helpful:
- students are expected to have their green sheets with them each class – everyone in the group needs their own copy in case someone is missing on a certain day
- when I work with a group first thing I require is they have their green sheets out and ready to take notes
- this is a working document – the first 4 pages should not be super neat – ideas change and plans do too – cross stuff out, add other good ideas
- the brainstorming page is for writing all good ideas down – it is also the place to put important info that doesn’t fit anywhere else
- there are lists of Must Do, Should Do, and Could Do – this is a challenge for students to figure out what the difference is between each – they often spend most of their time in the Could zone instead of working on the Musts
- Final project review form – students fill out these reflective questions about their project – then as a group they meet with me for an interview about how it all went – a big part of my evaluation is based on this interview
- Last page is to be filed – this is a message to future students – let them know what works and doesn’t work for next time
Thanks to the all-star advisors and programs who through the years have shared their planning ideas with me. My green sheets are a compilation of many ideas I have seen.
If you have any ideas or suggestions please let me know.
Turns out my Student Leaders are very optimistic about the world and they love to draw on the white board. Here is how it worked.
First I showed the Lost Generation clip from YouTube. It starts off seeming like a very negative video but changes half way through to be very positive. The link is above. I then invited the class to write down as many things as they could that are great about the world right now or they see as positive for the future.
Then they were encouraged to come up to the whiteboard and write everything positive down they thought was important. When that was done they could come up and show what they liked that other people wrote by circling it or putting stars beside etc. What we got as you can see from the picture above was a very messy, awesome declaration of optimism by my class. They kept talking about all the things they had written down well into the rest of the class.
Give it a try! Now I am going to go outside and positively enjoy the 30C weather we rarely get in Calgary this time of year!
As the school year ends it gets tough to come up with meaningful activities for our Leadership classes. Running activities for the school are not very successful. The Canadian Student Leadership Association shared a great idea on their Leader’s Edge Facebook Page. It is called the Secret Service project featured on the blog The Fickle Pickle. Here is the link:
So we modified the assignment for our Centennial students. A link to the assignment is at the top of the post. They were to choose a small, medium, and large project that they would do serving others and then give a presentation to the class. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the projects our students chose. They included:
– helping siblings with homework
– cleaning a sibling’s room
– houses, cars cleaned
– breakfast in bed for Mom
– reading for an autistic brother at night
– giving away gift cards to some homeless people
– spending time with a sister suffering from depression
– face painting kids for free
– meeting Prime Minister Harper while volunteering at a Team Canada volleyball game
– paying for the next person in line at the drive through
-giving up their bus seat for Seniors
-took a friend out for Taco Tuesday
-built a deck with their Dad
-a thank you letter to a long time coach and mentor
I really enjoyed listening to the great acts of service our students were doing. So if nothing else give yourself a treat when you need a boost and give this a try. Hopefully it works for you too.
Centennial High School has partnered with Samuel Shaw Middle School, one of our feeder schools, to run a Study Buddy program. Our Gr. 11 and 12 Leadership students meet once a week with Gr. 5 or 6 Students at S Shaw. This is the fifth year the program has been running.
Last month when we arrived at Shaw we saw a number of post it notes up where the Gr. 6s were sharing things they love about their school. They talked about favorite classes, lunch, recess, and other cool activities at school. Two of the notes talked about our Study Buddy program. I was so impressed that with all the things they could highlight they chose their Study Buddy. The first note says “Being with my Buddy and playing 2 truths and a lie”. The second says “Being with my Buddy and getting to know her”.
How does our program work? We go once a week with our class (Wednesdays) for 45 minutes. My students come with a lesson plan or activities for the day. We consult with their teachers before as to what to work on. In the past we have done science, social studies, reading, and math. We have also worked on social skills or English as a second language. This term we are working with the theme of positivity and appreciation as requested by the Gr. 6 teachers. Last week they got in groups of 4 and put positive post it notes on each other’s backs supporting that week’s theme of validation. It is critical to not give their teachers more work with another program. They give us general ideas and then we do the planning and work.
Program Rewards – When we arrive at the school everyone recognizes our students in their Leadership T-Shirts. Former Study Buddies high five me in the hallway. There is an excitement from the Gr. 6s to meet with their Buddy. My Leadership students feel like they are doing something real and important. They come with a plan and work hard to make a difference with their buddy.
It is a highlight of every week for me to be a part of this program. Consider starting a Study Buddy program with one of your neighborhood schools.