The first activity in the first Leaders UNITE conference tuned out to be a bigger success than I expected. Well, that is partially because we altered the activity right before the students arrived. We were planning on just doing “A Leader Is… (Creativity Project)”, but one of my student ambassadors, Jonathan, had a better idea. “Why don’t we give each group a restriction? Like one group won’t be able to talk in their presentation, one group can only have two people talk, and the other needs everyone to talk.” I paused for a second. That was genius! The activity was so broad, and while that would be good in some situations, we would have already finished three discussions and lunch before the first activity. Being broad did not need to be a restriction. So we did it. We made Jonathan’s group unable to talk during their presentation (they could talk during the planning period, just not while presenting the final product), my group restricted to two students talking and everyone else participating in a non-verbal form, and Miriam and Julia’s group restricted so that every member of their group had to speak during the presentation. And I had to admit, I did not expect the results that were formed. They were even more creative than I could have imagined. Here were some of the highlights:
In Julia and Miriam’s group, the students wrote a poem together. The poem reflected qualities of a leader and how people can depend on the leader of a group. The final product was what astounded me. The students lined up in order, and each student recited one line from the poem. The poem was exactly long enough for each of them to recite a line. The finished product was beautiful, and well- executed. And did they work around their handicap and still produce an adequate product? Yes.
In Jonathan’s group, the students took the route that I expected- a skit. However, the skit they put together was simple, yet it got the message across more deliberately than a complex play. Some students, the bullies, began by throwing crumpled papers at one girl in the middle. However, two students came in from outside the classroom, dispersed the crowd, and helped the poor girl. The skit was short, yet it got the point across. Did they work around their handicap? Yes.
In my group, the students also went the route I expected- they performed a skit with two narrators and everyone else as actors. The narrators explained the scene as two math teachers taught the students how to multiply numbers together. The most extraordinary part of this presentation was that both of the students that volunteered to be narrators had not spoken once (unless directly called up) during the whole session. Both students said they felt more comfortable speaking than acting, and they quickly volunteered to speak during the presentation. Did this group work around their handicap? Yes.
All of the groups were astounding. Seeing 6th and 7th grade students use their creative abilities to push forward in the presence of an obstacle was quite a sight to see. The students were all proud of their final products, and all of them played an active role in its creation. This is one of the reasons I love these activities. They give everyone the opportunity to participate in some way, and the handicaps allowed students to use their creative abilities to make more than just a generic product.
The first Leaders UNITE Conference was a huge success! We thank everyone who attended the event for a day filled with fun, laughs, and leadership development. We would especially like to thank Benson Middle School for attending with students from their 6th and 7th grade class. During the event, students were placed in one of three groups, each with one student facilitator. Ivana moved from group to group during the discussions. The student facilitators did not lead the discussion, but instead helped guide the students to speak and to stay on topic. At the end of each discussion, students created a summary board with some of their key points of discussion and presented it to the whole class. Different students stood in front of the class and presented for each discussion. After the discussions, the students ate lunch and were assigned in new groups of three for the activities following lunch. Due to time constraints, students were only able to finish two of the three activities. However, the students enthusiastically completed the activities and performed the final products in front of the whole class. The results were amazing! Stay tuned for another post on the reflections/memorable moments from the conference!
We encourage everyone to attend future Leaders UNITE conferences and to contact us if you are interested in participating in another upcoming event.
This is the first Leaders UNITE conference, and this will hopefully be the first of many. It will take place at Cary Academy in the lecture hall. This conference will consist of three discussions followed by three activities- all directly corresponding. The theme for this conference is leadership within the classroom, and the activities will be centered around ways we can improve leadership opportunities and student mindsets within a school environment. There will be students from a few schools across North Carolina attending the conference. Students will be split into discussion groups with students from different schools, and they will be split into a different group for the corresponding activities. If anyone else would like to join the conference, please contact us! There will be snacks and lunch provided during the conference. Hope to see you all there!