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!
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.
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!
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 ran a fantastic Lip Sync Battle last week. This was based on the Lip Sync Battles you can find on Jimmy Fallon’s show. We had 6 students and a teacher participate. There were lots of students watching and we conveniently forgot to declare a winner :). It was also a great learning opportunity. The group planning the activity were very committed. They had challenges finding participants as well as dealing with when some dropped out. Aaron and Adam, part of the planning group and pictured above, stepped up the day before to fill an empty spot. They practiced all class. Nobody does a better lip sync to the SugarHill Gang than them. It was a good day for this leadership advisor. I saw leadership skills grow, kids coming through about something they are passionate, and the school having fun.
To see the highlight video go to my facebook page Brent Dickson’s Page
Celebrated our 3 yr Leadship Grads @ lunch Jan 16 w/ Pizza, a Powerpoint, and signed “Oh The Places You Will Go” books. Ashley, Ronan, Kayla, Shelby u rock! They are leaving behind a great legacy at Centennial.