Stuck in the Middle: We are Surrounded with Good Leadership
Since becoming an educator I have the habit of asking any young school-aged person that I meet what school they go to and what they do at their school? Sometimes I get an answer like, “I play on the basketball team” or “I am in the band,” but more often than not I get “Nothing. I just go to class.”
When I was middle school aged I was quiet and shy. I was more than happy to walk anonymously around the school halls. Or at least, that is what I told myself. When jobs needed to be done, or students were asked to take on some leadership tasks around the school, that role always went to the girl who lived down the street from me. She was smart, outgoing, and to be honest, considerably more reliable than myself.
I now believe that everyone can and should contribute to their school community. At North Saanich all 150 of our grade 8 students participate in leadership. We have 18 leadership opportunities for students to choose from and we meet with them every other week to divide up jobs and responsibilities.
All our grade 8 students recently signed up for their second rotation of leadership. Students are encouraged to join a new group, but they know that if there is room in their original choice they may stay in that group.
This week a young man came into my office and said, “Mr. Russell you forgot to put me in a leadership group and I was wondering what group I am going to be in?”
“What group do you want to be in?” I replied.
“Equipment Crew,” he responded.
“But you were in Equipment Crew last time and I only have one space open in that group.” I pressed on looking to see how he would react so I could judge if he was passionate about his leadership group or just looking for an easy job. So I continued, “Does Mr. Mark need you back in Equipment Crew?”
Without hesitation and with that fire I was looking for he said, “I think I am going to be promoted to Foreman of Assemblies!”
“Then I guess you are in Equipment Crew again. We need a good Foremen of Assemblies.”
Three days later we had the biggest assembly of the year. The Lieutenant Governor of BC, Judith Guichon, came and spoke at our school. She might not be the Queen of England, but she represents her, so it seemed like a royal visit to me.
For two weeks I have been worried about every aspect of the assembly, but I should have known that I did not have to worry about the gym set-up. At most schools, the principal would have had to worry about getting the gym floor covered, setting up the seating and getting the band pit ready for the performance, but not at North Saanich. Here that is not my responsibility. I leave that job to the Foreman of Assemblies!
The assembly was a big success. Now, not everyone will know all the hard work that went into setting up for this assembly, but I believe our Equipment Crew Foreman of Assemblies will know that the assembly went off without a hitch, because his team did a great job.
At North Saanich Middle School, all grade 8 students give back to the school through school service and everyone benefits. Students develop ownership and a special connection to our school while learning what it takes to be part of a great team and school community.