Saturday, March 21, 2015

"Let them eat..... muffins?"

Inspiration is lacking.  Both for the blog entry you are currently reading, and the two teams of Arrow Leaders that will be embarking on a pilgrimage to State College in less than 48 hours.  Although I find the whole reflective process of writing this blog very cathartic, there are days that I have no clue where I am going, or what I am going to say.

The same can be said for the Arrow Leaders.  I have charged myself with a blog entry a day for a year, focusing, albeit loosely sometimes, on education.  The Arrow kids have been charged with creating a project centered around Bullying that they can fully develop in State College this week and institute upon their return in either their school or community.

Let them eat...

When you leave 15 - 17 year old students to develop programs, there are two main strategies that must be employed.  Affirmation, to reward and focus the group for any kernel of wisdom or possibility that they might more fully explore, and a healthy dose of "NO COMMENT" when suggestions of questionable merit arise.  

Because, let's be real about this, sometimes the boneheaded ideas are the ones that will actually work.

An initial proposal to create an anti-bullying mascot, who might have become Reggie the Robot, for the primary school, was rejected by the principal for very solid reasons.  While high school kids recognize bullying as bullying, primary school kids aren't really sure about the difference between tattling and reporting information to adults.  This is refining process that is taught with specific language and skill set studied by counselors, and is tied to the developmental stages of small children, ala Piagetian theory.  It was a great idea, it just required more training than we have time to do.

Another proposal was MFAB.  Gotta love these kids, jumping on my bandwagon of acronyms.  If you want to convince me of something, give it a fancy acronym, and you're halfway there.  MFAB was on my whiteboard fairly early one morning.  I had no clue why.

"Muffins For Anti Bullying."  Oh.  Of course.  A sort of "Cheers-like, everybody knows your name" kind of support group for those feeling under attack, with counselors to support them.

Now, I must tell you, MFAB isn't entirely out of the realm of possibility, but to put the whole consideration process into perspective, the following concerns require conversation:
  • How would Michelle Obama feel about offering muffins?  They certainly don't meet the federal guidelines for student consumption.
  • Can we reserve the "food room" to host the MFAB sessions?
  • Would there be an increase in bullying by muffin-lovers, seeking solace in muffin-dom?
  • Who would be responsible for overseeing the counseling associated with the aforementioned muffin distribution?
  • Let alone, who is baking/buying muffins?
There will be many more brainstorming sessions before the actual launch of whatever projects are finally chosen.  The fun for me in all of this is watching a group of students learn the navigational skills for building a group and finding consensus in the process.  

The kids who participate in these few days look back on the time away  as some of the fondest memories of high school, learning as much about themselves as they do about the leadership process.

And me?  Well, I get to connect with educators across the state, connect and rejuvenate my own teaching and learning strategies, and revisit the excitement of teenage projects, without the associated drama of high school, and WITH the added wisdom of the 35 years between present day and high school graduation.

It truly is the best of both worlds.