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!
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?
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
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.
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!