Each member of a leadership course has a job description that outlines the expectations to be met. Accountability must be held by an Activities Director because the actions of our young leaders support an entire student body either creating a negative environment or a positive school culture. Grading members of a leadership course is always a topic that many Activities Directors ask in developing their program and curriculum. "How do I go about grading students in my course?"
In the work force, employers must evaluate their employees to make sure that customer service is positive, quotas are being met, and of course, money is being made. In this environment, employees are evaluated in various formats, either one on one, a small panel, or perhaps by a large party of stakeholders. So, why are we not simulating that environment, the very atmosphere we expect them to become a part of, in their future within our own programs? Why are we not giving our students the tools now in order to face their future employers and meet the demands and deadlines set forth in the business world?
Many don’t fully understand the job description and the dedication of an Activities Director. False thoughts develop from those who don’t hold this position. Theories transpire that it is a class that only makes posters, puts on a few dances, and initiates a few rallies. While those components are an aspect to any program, so much more occurs. Time management, conflict resolution skills, professionalism, organization, execution of an event, long days and late nights are a small insight to this world.
As the year begins there is excitement in the start of something new. New school supplies, new classes and teachers, new friends to make, and new activities to participate. It is a time of year where the summer heat has yet to fade and the night sky is still bright. A campus can see various activities at the beginning from a Week of Welcome, Club Rush, school BBQs, dances, lunch time activities, and Friday Night Lights. Pride swells, spirit days are in full force, and learning takes off.
To be fully successful in the start of an amazing year, key players must work hard to develop the atmosphere of learning and excitement for school. Administrators, classified, and teachers all play a role in a grand start to the year, but the most important person – the invaluable individual – is the Activities Director.
The tone of a school year, the activities created for student buy in, comes from the guidance of an Activities Director and their students in the program. The summer brings about retreats, planning, new ideas and so much more to create an atmosphere where students want to come to school and get involved.
The Activities Director must be the most highly paid and valued position on a campus.
To ask a child what they want to do for the rest of their life is one of the biggest mistakes any adult can make. While innocent in nature, the impact of such a question begins a state of mind where one choice must be made that will influence the life of a child far beyond our walls of education.
Do you want to be a policeman, a doctor, a lawyer, a CEO?
Often the influence of the adult can push a child to believe that one job or a slight few are worthy, but anything else should be forgotten.
Artist? Photographer? Teacher?
What we should be asking is, “what are the many interests you have that you wish to pursue as your grow into an adult?” And from that point it is the job of a parent, friend, teacher, and community member to nurture those thoughts and provide the information necessary to attain goals related to these ideas.
Through mock interviews.
The mock interview process is a yearlong event completed to shine the light on many different career options. As a bonus, if your student leader stays in the program year after year, they can pursue different ideas as they grow into the leader they are destined to become.
Sounds intense and perhaps too much work.
Yes, it is work, but the result far outweighs the stress to bring this event about for our young leaders. To watch them walk away from an experience like this, brings joy and value to everything being taught throughout the year.
by Jill Mortensen
The teenage mind is pushed more in today’s education system than ever before resulting in high stress levels, anxiety, and depression. With the advancement of technology, specifically an interactive cell phone, teenagers are getting lost focusing on what they don’t have rather than being thankful and aware. This is deeply disturbing since these young minds are not fully developed giving way to poor eating habits, lack of sleep, and possible drug use. We are teaching a generation to live a busy unfocused life rather than a mindful one.
Science has been working on data collecting and research of Mindfulness and its effects on the human body. Psychology Today reports “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.” Author Jeffrey M. Greeson, published in 2009, Sage Journal, concluded in his study of mindfulness, “the application of cutting-edge technology toward understanding mindfulness— an ‘inner technology’—is elucidating new ways in which attention, awareness, acceptance, and compassion may promote optimal health—in mind, body, relationships, and spirit.” Equally, author Emily Kathryn Herbert from Louisiana State University in 2018 concluded in her research “mindfulness practices positively impact classroom climate…” An evaluative thought can be made that practice with the inclusion of yoga, Pilates, and meditation effects the mind and body in a positive manner.
Gratitude should be a daily practice. Yet for most, it is a struggle to find the positive in a world that reports the nightmares of a 24-hour period with leaders in power that believe in division, practiced in the many forms of "isms" (racism, sexism, genderism, etc). As educators, we have the ability to recognize these forms of negativity and teach our students, the next generation, to be better than the current trend. At Ripon High School, located in California's Central Valley, the practice of gratitude is completed in the form of The Grateful Graduate.
Each year, as the newest graduating class approaches their big day on the stage, they come together for a meeting where they are encouraged to participate in the Grateful Graduate event. They are asked to look to their past where teachers made an impact in their life and a strong relationship had been built. They are challenged to share this gratitude with their teacher in the form of writing down their thoughts and presenting their words to a classroom full of students as a surprise to the unknowing teacher.
By Jill Mortensen
Ripon High School
This school year, the activities world will look drastically different from anything we have experienced before. From the seasoned ADs to the newly appointed staff members to take on the challenge of activities, our shift in focus will change, yet we can still maintain positivity and a strong school culture.
The following are ideas created and developed at RHS where my students have found value. According to them, these are simple and impactful lessons that they wanted to share with the CADA world.
1. Praises – Supplies: a card, color paper, computer, color markers or pens. Students craft positive words and write them down in a creative and colorful fashion to “praise” a peer for something kind and positive that they did. Words of encouragement are reflective and full of validation that can carry a student well past the moment of reception. Many of my students save them and go back to them in times of need to remind themselves of the kindness and love received.
2. Letter to a friend – Supplies: computer, printer, or binder paper with pen. Showing gratitude is a lesson that must be taught in our world. Taking the time to look at relationships and their importance to connection, especially in a divided country, can bring forth happiness to the writer and the recipient. Have students write a letter to a friend, a teacher, a parent, a pastor, to whomever has made and impact with the message of thankfulness and gratitude. This is a lesson of raw honesty that builds on developing connections with one another.
3. Valentine Hearts – Supplies: color paper, pens. Divide a list of every student on your campus within your class. Each student will write multiple, non-superficial, notes to each student on campus. Write each name in Sharpie making the name of the student bold and stand out. Have students write quotes or words of encouragement for each member of your student body. Place them strategically around campus for all the view and later tell the kids they can take their heart if they would like it. Throughout the years of doing this simple lesson, I see hearts in student’s binders that they carry with them each day at school. Simple and meaningful. Get creative, do this activity quarterly for your campus with a different theme. Example: Apple: back to school, Snowflake: winter, Sun: headed into summer.