Posts

Philosophy of Student Leadership

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For a student leadership program to be most effective, the program must allow for these three elements: Students must be allowed to practice leadership. Students must be given the technical, personal, and relational support to succeed in their leadership. Students must be guided towards sustainable self-directed ethical practices. Core beliefs: Leadership is a teachable and practicable skill related to, but separate from the skills learned to be a good individual band student. All students can learn to be leaders. Leadership is life-enriching and has great value beyond band. I will expand on each of these three elements in the following paragraphs. 1. Practicing Leadership An analogy I like to use with other teachers is teaching leadership via lecture is like trying to teach someone to swim via lecture. The only way to truly learn leadership is to jump in the water and do it. But what is “jumping in the water?” An opportunity to practice leadership requires two things: Meaningful Proj

How to Request Time Off Your Job for Band

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One of my biggest frustrations is students skipping band performances or practices because they “need to work.” In their first jobs they ever hold, students regularly struggle to reconcile their demanding personal work schedules with an equally demanding marching band schedule. Oftentimes, the issue is not as much demanding bosses as much as it is a lack of student training on how to recognize their own control they have over the situation. Many times parents, teachers, and employers assume that student workers magically have the skill and courage to request off work without the proper training and guidance when this is clearly not the case. In this entry, I would like to offer a printable guide you can use to help students recognize their own agency to request time off from work in a way that 1) doesn’t compromise hours and 2) will keep the student in good standing with their employer. Before I begin, let me make this one very important point: some students actually do need to work

3 Revelations on Student Conflicts

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Band directors wear many hats. Teacher, facilities manager, repairman, web developer, graphic designer, accountant, historian, carpenter, and public relations officer just to name a few. After “teacher,” the hat I think I wear second most is “therapist.” I teach 5th grade through seniors, but it seems to consistently be middle school students who are the ones reaching for the security blanket I keep in my office specifically for crying children. (It's a soft blue wolf blanket I got from Walmart.) Over the years, I found myself having the same conversation over and over again with different students. From all of these conversations, I have found that students commonly benefit from one of three revelations: 1) the Golden Rule is wrong, 2) story, not action, fuels emotion, and 3) The Relationship Cup analogy. My hope is that the way I have worded these three revelations may aid you when you talk with your own students, or when training your own student leaders on how to recognize and

How to Schedule a Meeting

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The very first thing I teach my student leaders is how to respond to a meeting request and how to schedule a meeting. Qualities of a good leader, conflict resolution, goal setting, and vision are all great things, but if they are not in the room to begin with all is lost. Because of this, attendance is the #1 priority of our student leaders. Of course there are a number of ways to schedule a meeting. The go-to-default option most students use is Pin The Tail on the Donkey method where they just throw out one date/time after another until they (randomly) hit a time when everyone can be there. This is not efficient OR effective. I highly recommend, instead, students and staff use a scheduling tool. Tools When scheduling a meeting there are a number of tools available for free or on subscription. Personally, I like free and use the two tools Doodle or WhenIsGood.net . Both sites find common times when everyone is available by selecting your own availability, sending out a link, and then

7 Tips to Writing an Effective Email

Students must be able to communicate effectively and professionally. In today’s time, that means email especially. Below are seven fixes that I have had to frequently correct when my student leaders send emails. This advice does not go into detail on the obvious. Instead I have focused these pages on the errors and fixes that I have most experienced in well meaning senior leaders. As such, I have written the following paragraphs as if I were talking to my students. Include a specific subject There is nothing more obnoxious for a busy person than to receive an email with (no subject). Equally annoying is when the subject line is vague like “Can I ask you a question?” or “URGENT! PLEASE READ!!!!”  What do you think is going on in my mind when I read that title? These vague or absent subject lines are the equivalent of being called to the principal’s office without being told why. Did I accidentally break some policy? Has funding for our program been cut? Is a student injured?! Only after