On Saturday we were driving through Montana on our way home from a great Spring Break vacation. In one town we stopped for a quick lunch at McDonald’s. The restaurant was pretty busy. One cashier I noticed was complaining a fair bit under her breath but loud enough to hear. It was a real contrast from the other workers at the restaurant. I found it irritating to listen to. When we approached the till she said to herself “shoot me now!” refering to who knows what. I couldn’t resist and said with a smile “No thanks, there wouldn’t be anyone to take my order!” She laughed and served us but I noticed a little later she was right back at the complaining.
A couple hours later we pull into Costco with a mission to buy some cheap butter. I decide to top the car up with gas. It is cold and sleet snowing and this one Costco employee is out there by herself sweeping and shovelling snow aside and making sure the pumps work. As I got out she greeted me with a “Happy Easter” and asked how my day was going. If anyone had a reason to complain it was this lady. But she left me with a smile on my face.
We choose our attitude – attitude matters!
We ran a fun and simple activity this week that may work for you. We advertised all around the school about the upcoming Easter Egg Smash. We also filmed a video of a kid getting an egg smashed on his head and put it on Instagram. On the day of we had six volunteers with garbage bags and shower caps on. There were 3 raw and 3 hard boiled eggs. Each contestant chose their egg and a leadership student did the smashing. The raw egg heads were out and the hard boiled carried on to the final round. In the final round there was two raw eggs and one hard boiled. Our winner got a Starbucks gift card and everyone got chocolate for participating. Give it a try – even works when it isn’t Easter!
Here is a quick lesson on grattitude that worked well with my students the other day.
- Have each student on their own write down as many things as they can that they are grateful for. Give them 2 minutes and tell them it can be big or small things, just stuff they are grateful for.
- Next they share with a partner. Have them name 3 things they are grateful for and then learn 3 things their partner is grateful for. Take turns until time is up. Encourage them to ask each other open ended questions about what they share.
- Invite class members to come to the whiteboard and write down things they are grateful for, big or small. If someone else puts up the same thing put a checkmark beside it.
- Have a group discussion about what they put down. Ask students to share with the class the stuff they think is most important. Share what you think is most important. Let the class decide where the discussion goes.
- Share the following Ted Talk by Louie Schwartzberg about Grattitude https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXDMoiEkyuQ
Hopefully you find this useful
A huge shout out to our 3 year Student Leadership grads. They have made a huge difference in their 3 years at Centennial. At lunch today we had treats, watched the traditional powerpoint with three years of pictures, and handed out the “Oh The Places You’ll Go” signed books. Thanks to Ms. McGregor (Mama McGreggs) who put the powerpoint together. We will miss Ms. Marschall who after 5 years as an amazing Leadership Advisor is moving on to Bowness and an 8 minute commute. All the best to our Leadership Grads who we know will make a difference wherever they go. Go Yotes!
We had a successful lunch time activity at Centennial this week. For the week before we advertised in the school and on Social Media that there would be free McHappy Meals in the cafeteria next Wednesday. To further promote, on the day before we had four leadership students eating McHappy Meals in the cafeteria. The table was set in the middle with caution tape around and a beautiful table cloth. Lots of students kept coming up and asking what was happening. On Wednesday they found out that four people would get free McHappy Meals but the catch was that they were put in a blender first and then served in a cup. It is important to make sure that students know that the food is blended before they volunteer. That way no one feels pressured to do something they didn’t sign up for. We declared the winner as the student who drank/ate the most after 2 minutes. Prizes went to everyone who participated and they got to keep the toy! Give it a try. Good luck!
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.
Centennial High School hosted another successful Coyote (spirit) Week! Each day we have a dress up theme and an activity at lunch. Whenever you dress up and or participate they get entries for prizes. At the end of the week we pull names and they get to come to the Leadership room and pick a prize in the order their name was drawn. This year features gift cards, Flames tickets etc.
Monday – Coyote colors – if they are wearing black, grey, or green we give them an entry and thank them for participating – usually they have no idea and we get them to buy in – thx to Ian Tyson for the idea
Tuesday – Wear plaid – a big hit
Wednesday – Jersey Day – I bravely wear my Oilers Jersey in Calgary Flames country
Thursday – PJs & Sweats Day
Friday – no school!!
Monday at Lunch – R U smarter than Trump – one of our students dressed up like Trump and had competitions against students like – Why do you love Putin? – Who can build a better wall? – Did Trump say this? For my American friends this may be a bit delicate but a big hit in Calgary.
Tuesday at Lunch – Arm Wrestling tournament – this is an annual event for us – big crowds
Wednesday at Lunch – What would you do for a Klondike? – Students played the Klondike commercial techno version – several challenges including – someone does your make up – peel a banana with your feet – reinact movie scenes from Titanic and Frozen – eat a hot pepper – get your leg waxed
Thursday at Lunch – Hanging Doughnuts – hang doughnuts from a string and students eat them with their hands behind their back
Good luck with your spirit weeks or other activities. A great way to kick off the year!
Centennial Leadership was the proud host of the Alberta Student Leadership Conference (ASLC) 2016. Our 100 students hosted 850 students and 150 teachers from all over Alberta. We also had special guests from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, NWT, and Nunavut! Keynote speakers included Scott Hammell, Ian Tyson, Andy Thibodeau, Tenille, and Stu Saunders. Our students were amazing! Thanks to everyone who came from away and made our conference possible. Special thanks to Laura McGregor, Joyce Wall, Graeme Tomlin, Penny George, and Shar Marschall – the best teacher team ever to host a conference with! Check out the video highlights from ASLC 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZpqlBIjEdQ
Thanks everyone for all your hard work – this will be one for the memory banks!
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.
Centennial High School hosted our annual Feeder Leadership Conference. 150 students from Samuel Shaw School and MidSun Jr. High attended. These are the two main schools whose students will eventually be Coyotes. I am very proud of my class pictured above. This was a student planned and run conference with minimal guidance from me.
Why host a Feeder conference?
- It builds stronger relationships with the Leadership programs, both teachers and students of your feeder schools
- It can increase enrollment in your programs as students see what you do and want to be a part of it. Our numbers jumped significantly after hosting our first Feeder.
- It is a great opportunity for your students to plan and run a meaningful event and allows them to connect with their old school and teachers
Attached is our imperfect, student generated program for the day. Hopefully it gives you some ideas and inspires you to host your own feeder conference in the future
I had the privilege of working with Henry Wisewood’s Student Council last Friday. They are preparing to host the Canadian Student Leadership Association’s Horizons Conference on Oct. 15 and wanted to get ready for an amazing day.
Surprise (not really), while sharing Centennial ideas with them I got some great ideas in return.
Wisewood had a “selfies with Maximus” (Wisewood Warrior’s mascot) contest. Students were encouraged to take selfies with Maximus as he toured the school during lunch hours. They had to put #warriorpride in order to qualify for prizes. Tons of kids participated upping their outreach on instagram and increasing school spirit. Nice job HWW Student Council.
Guess what Centennial is doing in the next two weeks. That’s right, selfies with the coyote. Check out @chscoyote in the next week or so to see more.
We need more sharing of great leadership ideas. Get connected and pass those good ideas along.
Go Yotes! (and Warriors, except for when I play them in BBall this year)
For more info on CSLA Horizons Conferences go to
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.
School start up is always crazy and hard to explain to someone who isn’t a teacher. In the rush of a million things to get done I asked my Sr. Leadership class (gr. 11s and 12s) to get the September birthdays up ASAP. For almost 10 years now we display all the names (first name and last initial) at our main entrance to Centennial. Sometimes it doesn’t feel appreciated but if they are up late or a name is missed we do hear about it. So we needed to get those September BDays up. I asked Georgia and Josh to organize the whole class to get it done. In one class and a bit the class had them finished and up. Above is a picture of them in action.
Later I thought about how awesome it was to turn that job over and see it done well withoug my supervision or intervention. They are seasoned leadership students who know what to do and care that it is done well.
It was a cool moment and I almost missed it. May you have many cool moments this year and may you not miss them.
I LOVE FIREWORKS!
For a number of years I was a gate supervisor at the Calgary Stampede. The Stampede has an incredible fireworks display that goes off every night at the end of the Grandstand Show. I would always do my best to be in position to enjoy the show. It was the same every night but that didn’t matter. It was great every time. We even had a pool going in the office as to exactly what time they would start. Sadly I think I only won that once.
I did notice that while the fireworks show was on that several people wouldn’t bother to look up. They were preoccupied with something else or in too much of a rush. They were missing out on a great show. I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t take a moment to look up and enjoy.
This July 1, Canada Day, I took my boys to an Okotoks Dawgs minor league baseball game. The highlight of the night was the fireworks at the end of the game. The ballpark was packed in anticipation and the show was great. What I enjoyed the most was the squeals of delight from the younger (and some older) kids. It made the show even better.
Let’s all take a moment to enjoy the fireworks in our lives. Don’t be that person who is so busy they don’t have time to look up and be amazed. While we are at it let’s encourage others around us to look up too.
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.
My son and I attended the Calgary Comic Convention a couple of weeks ago. This was my first Comic Con and I had a blast. I got to listen to Herschel from Walking Dead and Ensign Harry Kim from Voyageur. It was nerdtastic. I was very impressed with all the amazing costumes. The Tuscan Warrior and a person dressed as an old school Mysterio from Spiderman were my favorites. The greatest compliment you could give someone is to tell them “Nice costume, can I take a picture?” It reminded me of Mark Schaerenbroich’s Nick Bike compliments.
I noticed that the most fun people were having was being with other like minded comicon fans. They were sharing stories, admiring costumes, and being with their tribe. It is important to have a tribe to belong to. That can include family, church, community groups, or even a Comiccon convention.
School can meet this need for lots of kids. Let’s make sure to have schools with lots of tribes for students to belong to.
May the 4th be with you!
This is my friend Braeden. He is a Leadership superstar at Centennial. He is also one of the most positive people I know. He was wearing this shirt the other day and I had to take a picture. I love the idea of a Thumbs Up Thursday. Say yes to all the good things in our lives and opportunities that may come our way. We are starting to promote Thursdays as all about the thumbs up. Be positive, say yes to opportunities, and spread the enthusiasm.
May your Thursdays always be Thumbs Up!!
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.
At our retreat this year we asked our students the question – “Are you a Leadership Kid or a kid taking Leadership?”
A Leadership Kid shows up for the lunch time activity. A kid taking leadership class asks if they have to be there because that is their free time. A Leadership Kid shows up after school to decorate while a kid taking leadershipclass checks first to see if they get marks for coming. A Leadership Kid figures out a way to attend an assembly or retreat while a kid taking leadership doesn’t come because they would have to then write a test after school cutting into their time. A Leadership Kid loves being there, works hard, and usually gets a great grade too. A kid taking Leadership may get a great grade, or they may not. But their experience is not near as rich as the Leadership Kid’s.
We encourage our students to be Leadership Kids, not just a kid taking Leadership.
I have attached a sheet that we used at our last retreat. They brainstormed the differences between a Leadership Kid and a kid taking Leadership. Then we had them pick three goals for themselves during the semester. Their goals are posted in the room and at the halfway point and end of term they get to see how they are doing. Hope this is a help to you.
Sometimes an old Leadership idea has new and unexpected results. Our Gr. 10 Leadership class decided to take Mark Scharenbroich’s idea of “The Stars Come Out” and make it into a St. Patrick’s Day idea. We cut out 2000 green coyote paw prints and put every one of our staff and students names on their own individual paw print. On the 16th after school we put all of the paw prints up so that they filled the main hallway and make an impression when students came the next day. On St. Patrick’s Day everyone had a paw print to go find. Many of the staff and students took their’s home or put it at their desk or locker. Cool Story – A parent told me that evening he saw a green paw print on his son’s bedroom wall and asked what it was. He was told that the Leadership class had put up everyone’s name. He spent every class break and lunch looking for his with no luck. Right after school he noticed a section he missed and there was his name. He told his Dad that he shouted out “I Exist!”. He then brought his paw print home. Students want to feel connected to their school – they want people to know “I Exist!” There was more social media traffic about this activity than any we have done in the last two months. Build Connections – as Mark S says “Connect The Dots” Below are some of our Leadership 10 students with the paw prints. They covered six tables. Nice Bike Lead 10 Yotes!
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 love this video from Kid President recognizing an amazing teacher who impacted many lives during her years as a Gr. 1 teacher. I am sure there are many teachers who never hear how much they are appreciated but have made the same impact. One of my childhood mentors, Bob Gilson, passed away last month and I was honored to say a few words in tribute to him. I was grateful that I had told him personally a few years ago how much he had meant to me. Take the opportunity to thank the people who have made a difference in your life.
For all my fellow teachers out there, good luck in the new school year.
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 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
We had a great discussion in Leadership class about how leaders need to show gratitude towards others. We then watched this video by Louis Schwartzberg. The class was loving this video. Lots of positive comments after. Check it out.
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.
Here is an inspirational video from a principal who was a Leadership Advisor. She truly understands the role of Student Leadership in schools.
Last week Centennial held our Find The Fib campaign. We asked staff to send us 2 truths and a fib about themselves. We then posted them up near where they teach. It created lots of cool discussions between staff and students. Click on the link to see a sample. (hint: check my bio for how many boys I really have). Thanks to Vimy Ridge Edmonton who shared this idea at CSLC 2013!
GREAT VIDEO FOR LEADERSHIP CLASS – We had a great discussion around this lecture by Pamela Meyer at TED. Hope you enjoy it.
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
Our superstar Librarian at Centennial shared this. It reminds me that acting like a kid opens up some amazing possibilities. Check it out.
I finally learned how to use imovie (thanks Garth Melrose) and made a highlight video from ASLC. Enjoy!
My good friend Cheryl Davidson @ Strathmore High School and her Leadership Class put this video together. The total school effort to film this blows my mind. Nice job Strath!