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!
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 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
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.