As part of Ravenscroft School’s Lead From Here curriculum, middle school students participated in a half day retreat that was designed to give students a chance to get to know each other and to gain a better understanding of the School’s Citizen Leader Framework.

The events in each grade level centered around an essential question:

  • 6th Grade: Who am I as a 6th grader in the Ravenscroft community? How do I fit in the Middle School community?
  • 7th Grade: What is my role in the community for leading with others? Why is it important to Value relationships with others as well as understand and appreciate difference?
  • 8th Grade: How can I build on leadership competencies in order to understand the impact I can have as an 8th grader to change my world?

To meet the stated objective, students participated in a series of experiential activities that allowed them learn through a guided experience.

img_2691In sixth grade, students focused on honing the principles of DAC: Direction, Alignment, and Commitment. In this activity, students were divided into four and provided a deck of 100 index cards. The only instructions that were provided stated, “you have seven minutes to create the best, freestanding structure that they can using only index cards.” At the close of the seven minutes, participants were able to engage in a gallery walk to see the work of their classmates. After the activity, students were asked to reflect on the process of creating the “best, freestanding structure with only 100 index cards”. Students were asked, “How did your group define “best” when asked to create the “best structure?”  Did you all agree on that definition?  If so, how did you come to a consensus?  If not, how was it decided how to create the structure?” As students reflected, they were able to share elements of leadership that they saw throughout the process, as well as areas in which their group was unsuccessful. One student reflected, “I began the activity understanding the directions that were given but my entire group could not land on a method to build the structure.” This individual reflection allowed sixth grade advisors to share the elements of DAC and to discuss the importance that having clear direction, buy-in, group support and energy have on a collaborative assignment.

In seventh grade, students created an advisory charter. The theme of seventh grade is Venturing Out By Leading With Others. Students were asked, “if we are going to lead well with others, we need to spend some time deciding what kind of advisory we are going to be. The advisory we have will depend on the choices we make. The exciting part is we get to decide.” Students began by reflecting on one behavior they needed to exhibit in order to work well with one another in advisory this year. After students created a list, they agreed on these norms, and created a visual display that will be hung on a wall in their advisor’s room. Later, students participated in the innovate the hoop activity. In this task, students tested multiple strategies to allow for their entire advisory to go through a hula hoop in the shortest amount of time. After the activity, students participated in a debrief activity, allowing students to discuss ways in which they demonstrated collaboration.

In eighth grade, students participated in the turnstiles activity. Through this experiential activity, students were organized in one location on one side of an extended jump rope. As two advisors turned the rope, as if the group were playing jump rope, the students were tasked to get everyone through the spinning rope. Students were told, “this spinning rope represents the eighth grade year porthole that your entire team must pass through. We will have several challenges for our group to accomplish using this jump rope. With each challenge, I want you to be mindful of keeping yourself safe. Try to be mindful so that you do not trip and fall. Are you up for your first challenge?” Students had fun being strategic in order to set and achieve the goals their groups; all groups were thoughtful in their reflections on this activity and most realized the need for strong communication and effective leadership in order to be successful.

After students participated in their grade level specific advisory activities, they were placed in “nests”, small groups of cross-grade advisories who will work together all year in Mix-It-Up events and other activities.During the Lead From Here retreat day, the nest groups focused on buiimg_2733lding community, and fostering appreciation for each other’s strengths as middle school students. Students did this by engaging in fun, experiential activities including creating a nest group name, and taking a nest selfie. Students also participated in an Olympic Strengths activity that encouraged nest members to collaborate, take time to make a strategy, reflect on what is working or not working, and how to keep a growth-minded outlook on each individual challenge.

The Lead From Here retreat is an annual event that occurs each fall. In partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership, Middle School Counselor Lorelei Lindow, and each of the School’s grade level deans collaborated to create this year’s retreat curriculum.

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