Today was the big day, the day that the vision I and others have been working toward for almost a year.
LEADS (Lead, Empower, Act, Develop, Serve) is a program that at its core is about students. How to teach them to be leaders and servants of their campus and beyond. It is about innovation and compassion, practical actions and big visions.
It is difficult to quantify because it is new. Really new. As in, first of its kind new.
Now, it looks a bit like Student Council with its leadership, AVID with its empowerment, FFA with its action, Mentoring programs with its development, and National Honor Society with its service. But it is unique in many ways. For one, students from grades 5 through 12 will be taking part. The numbers are smaller, simply 2 per grade (at this point), and the service is both larger in scale and smaller in scope. A big project that is focused on the campus the students come from. The students are ambassadors for the school district, but they may not be the students that are always chosen, At least, we do not want to see the same kids in those organizations listed above to the exclusion of those students with big ideas, but not necessarily the same opportunities or results.
LEADS is for the Crazy Ones, like those in this Apple commercial.
But the Crazy Ones does not simply apply to the students. (And PLEASE see that I am using 'crazy ones' in the most positive way possible!)
The Teacher Innovators, as we are calling them, must be willing to take a risk. To step out and try something new, to create, to lead, empower, act, develop and serve themselves.
The big day involved no students, because before we can let them loose, we need to create the best possible field for student work to succeed. That means vision, that means expectation, that means finding the right people to take on the task.
For the last three months, I have been meeting one-on-one with about a dozen teachers from CSISD. Some I knew were interested in this sort of thing, some had applied, and some were recommended. I went to them with a pitch for a new program that would test them, challenge them, and give them the chance to make a difference in students's lives beyond the walls of their classroom. Today we gathered for vision casting and team building.
The first task was to complete the Marshmallow Challenge using 20 pieces of spaghetti, tape, string, and a marshmallow. Oh, and they could only use one hand per person to do the task The results differed.
Two teams used very different techniques and designs, yet both accomplished their goal- to hold a marshmallow up with spaghetti. Our Teacher Innovators discussed how different methods are not necessarily wrong or right, but they might need some guidance and some correction. Or more tape.
Success is measured by the accomplishment. In this case, working together to overcome challenges and deficits was a success, as much as getting the marshmallow higher.
Our second activity was Give 1 Take 1- after reading an article, we wrote three takeaways on note cards, then shared them with each other. One person would share, their partner would take one they liked and sign their name. The other would do the same. The ideas that were signed the most were shared. Essentially, the takeaway was that we need to start small and build with integrity any program we develop.
I then shared the vision of LEADS- seen here via Periscope: https://www.pscp.tv/w/bT-8uzFlUkV4cWVxZU1XUXd8MURYeHlFcVdhQnl4Tbm9aZmk1zpUtMXKZjVRaGRVSXlx7iIAcQsJ1EQIMV82
After lunch we watched a video over Nintendo LABO:
Thinking that was a good idea, we had our teachers use cardboard to meet a need- how to stop pencils from rolling off standing desks. Again, the results were different- yet creative. One was more complex, the other more simple. Both, again, accomplished the task.
As we completed this task, our Innovators were mindful that we would be asking our students to use common tools to uniquely solve needs. If we as teachers could not embrace creative problem solving, how could we expect our students? We must model this in LEADS- and our classrooms.
Lastly, we began to create posters that define for us the components of LEADS. Our braindump will continue to develop into clearer visions of what the program is and will be.
This is symbolic of what today was. It was a start. A small step. Many ideas were shared, questions asked, and processes started. Some of these thoughts will move forward, some will stall out, others with change and adapt. My goal for today was to bridge the gap between those teachers who were nervous to take this on and those who were eager and excited to jump right in. As the day concluded, I definitely felt that the Teacher Innovators were excited and eager- but sober in their perspective of the task ahead. There is much work, but I believe that today, the empowerment was offered to these teachers to take ownership of LEADS.
See, the conclusion today was that LEADS CANNOT be just our vision. It must be the students' vision, their passion. So, for now, we build a foundation. When the students join us, we build for the stars.
We are, after all, the Crazy Ones.
I teach Psychology, Sociology, World History Honors and Debate at College Station High School, as well as coach the debate team, sponsor the TED Ed Club, and I am the Lead Innovator for LEADS CSISD (A student leadership empowerment program for 5th-8th graders). I am an aspiring administrator.