If you had classes in rooms 109 or 111, then apologies for disrupting your lessons on the 7th and 8th of September. You are not alone in your surprise at the racket caused downstairs; I myself was taken aback when the two facilitators had us standing in a circle, clapping and dancing around singing ‘big fat pony’.

I received the email about joining a specialized student leadership training with JUMP! a couple of weeks before the event. Although I had no idea about what it consisted of, I decided that it would be interesting. I completed the necessary documentation, and did not give it much thought until the day of.

We met under the Japanese flag on the Monday morning, and  we were performing handshakes by the names of ‘milk the cow’ and ‘jellyfish’ before even getting an introduction to the program. These were recurring instances over the course of the two days. In between handshakes, we had small exchanges with each other about all things ‘leadership’, before sitting down to for a quick introduction to the training.

The rest of day one consisted of a lot of weird activities that did not seem as if they necessarily pertained to leadership at all, until after the debriefing sessions where it became evident they did completely. Said activities included lowering a hula hoop to the ground and selecting what values were most important to us.

The second day was finished up with the introduction of ‘5 Practices of Exemplary Leadership’. Among them were: modeling the way, enabling others to act and challenging the process. Carlos Simon (’17) summed up the day nicely by saying, “I never thought pretending to be a chicken would improve my leadership skills.”

Day two focused far more on us participants acting as facilitators ourselves. In the morning we spent a good half an hour blindfolded, trying to determine missing shapes and colours from a set (long story short, it was all to do with communication and the leadership roles people take on in order to increase efficiency).

We were informed of Tuckman’s stages of group development (forming, storming, norming and performing – google it), and then were given a quick bout of facilitator training so that we could see these stages in action after lunch.

The afternoon continued with us taking on the role of facilitators. We led activities ranging from trying to fit seven people on a piece of tarp as it was folded into smaller rectangles to seeing the fastest a tennis ball could pass through everyone’s hands.

Laughter and sugarcoating aside, when it came to the debriefing an essential aspect of the ‘learning cycle’ it was clear that all of these activates uncovered important ideas to do with leadership and the roles that are taken on when working together in groups.

A number of the participants are headed to the Middle School on Saturday, 12th September, to help facilitate the middle schoolers’ JUMP! Program.

Along with an improved understanding of ‘practices of exemplary leadership’, I have come away from the training with the understanding that a ‘change-maker mindset’ is best and that awkward is most definitely good.

Maddie Schulz ’17

Featured Image by: clspeace on Flickr


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