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Category: Inspiration
posted by: Micah Jacobson 4/8/2015 | Category: Inspiration

As a newly elected Student Body President, I was full of hope, and bereft of knowledge. Like so many people at the beginning of a journey, new WEB and Link Leaders, new teachers and new parents, I was enthusiastic and clueless. At that time of my life, it certainly would never have occurred to me to reach out to the person who had just spent a year doing the job, the outgoing President, unless my brilliant Activities Director had not orchestrated a perfect transition experience.

At the end of May, old and new officers all gathered for an evening banquet. Tables had been set out by the out-going officers one last time, while the new officers set the theme and decorated the room, for the first time as a team. We had a potluck where old and new were mixed together so that positions sat next to each other.

At the conclusion we had the “Pass the Treasure” ceremony. Each of the outgoing officers went up to receive previously collected praise from their friends, teachers and significantly, from our Activities Director. Then each of them read a short wish for the person taking over their position and they formally handed over their file box for the position. (This being the late 80’s we had actual paper files…I suppose today you might just hand over the ‘ceremonial google docs password’!)

The last part of the evening was spent mostly in pairs or small groups as the old and new sat down and went through the files. This part changed everything. I was twice the president I would have been because of this. More importantly, the outgoing president and I became friends in a way that we never would have as a result of this talk.

In general, we do a great job acknowledging the BIG transitions. In fact, in Link Crew and WEB we are “new beginnings” specialists.

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 2/18/2015 | Category: Inspiration

Well Coordinators, it’s that time of year already. It’s time to start thinking about selecting your next group of Link and WEB Leaders. Selecting the right leaders is arguably the single most important thing you will do in your program, so maybe this is the year that you take your selection process to the next level!

Quick reminder: What we taught you about selecting your leaders at the Basic Training is rightfully seen as just a starting place for getting the right leaders on board. That said, it is still worth a double check to make sure you are at least doing the basics before we go on.

Numbers: You are looking to recruit 2 leaders for every group of 10 new students you will have. Recall that recruiting too many leaders is almost as bad as not recruiting enough. No matter how tempting it is to take more, force your program to target the right numbers.

Qualities: Our NUMBER 1 priority for your leaders is that they represent a cross-section of your school. Every single new student should be able to look at your group of leaders and see at least one student that they feel is “like them”. Our NUMBER 2 priority is that you seek out the kindest kids at your school. Get those two things right and you are on your way.

Strategies: Finally, we suggested you start with four strategies to recruit the right leaders.

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posted by: Carolyn Hill 1/15/2015 | Category: Inspiration

New Years resolutions. Yeah, right. How many of us fall into the trap of starting the new year with resolution to change? And how many of us fail quite quickly? According to most studies, 92% of us fail in the first month so we’re in good company…or at least a lot of company. That’s not to say some people can make them work but the success rate is low for most. There are basically three reasons why they fail:

1.  People make unrealistic resolutions;

2.  People don’t equip themselves with the mental ammunition to fight off doubt and continue with their goals; and

3.  Using guilt or fear as motivation, or resolving to stop doing something is not effective.

Just the word resolution sets us up for failure. To resolve is to decide firmly and even force a change. And any time we exert force, we automatically meet a counterforce or resistance; it’s physics.

So, why not think in terms of intention instead of resolution. Intention is to simply to begin to aim and to plan and doesn’t automatically create resistance. It is the “being” before the “doing”. It is the visioning. It is the dreaming. It is full of hope. It is your own personal “Yes, and…”

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posted by: Carolyn Hill 11/21/2014 | Category: Inspiration

Thanksgiving is such a cool holiday. People. Food. Gratitude. What more could we ask for? And it is a time to pause, reflect and truly appreciate those who make a difference. To say, “Thanks” and to possibly do some more giving as well.

At Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, CA, Annie Hanson and the rest of her coordinating team takes the opportunity to thank their leaders for all that they are doing to improve the culture and support the freshmen at their school. They host a “Thanks for Giving” banquet in their gym. All the Link Leaders dress up and the gym is filled with a circle of tables for their feast as well as a Karaoke Korner, Just Dance and Video Games on a giant screen, card tables with board games and a photo booth. The adults provide the turkeys (chickens actually!) and the kids all bring a side dish for a fantastic potluck. It is playful and fun and a great opportunity for the Leaders to be thanked for all of their efforts so far. 

At Martin Luther Middle School in OH, the WEB Leaders decided to merge Thanksgiving with Staff Appreciation and threw a luncheon for the entire staff. They decorated the library replete with candles (battery charged so no fire hazard!), nice tablecloths, real plates, silverware and glasses. Each place card had a staff member’s name on it with positive words to describe that person. The WEB Leaders all dressed up and served the teachers, having been trained in proper and genial service. Then, while the staff was eating, some other WEB Leaders did a Reader’s Theater, reading appreciation letters to each staff member. The details are awesome and really show a genuine appreciation.

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 10/10/2014 | Category: Inspiration

Miguel didn’t like school. He didn’t like his classes, didn’t like his teachers and made it known that he didn’t like his Link Leader. Ruben, his senior Link Leader, was nervous about getting his group again, and Miguel specifically, for Seeking Out Success, Etiwanda High School’s 3rd annual effort at reinforcing a culture of academic success. 

At progress report time, the Southern California high school with an enrollment of over 3400 students, releases all freshmen from 2nd and 3rd periods to meet with their Link Leaders. They meet in the gym, then divide into three large groups to rotate through 3 sections, listening to a speaker, taking ‘grad’ pictures with their graduation pledge and, crucially, receiving and reviewing progress reports with their Link Leaders.

“We wanted to create something that would both reunite freshmen with their Link Leaders and provide a check in point early in their high school career that would let them know that we care about their academic success”, said Aaron Caloca, a Link Coordinator at EHS. 

In fact, the first step of passing out progress reports was for the Link Leaders to remind the freshmen that they actually care about their success and would do whatever it took to support their group. Ruben’s group had progress reports first in the rotation and he was nervous to have Miguel back in this group. Mr. Caloca reminded him that as Leaders our job is to care about everyone, even if they don’t care back.

So Ruben began his session talking about his own academic struggles as a freshmen. He told his group that he really cared about them and would always help them if they needed it. As the freshmen looked at their grades so far, celebrated successes and identified areas to improve, Miguel remained quiet. Finally, Ruben went to him individually and asked if he could look at the grades with Miguel. Quietly, Miguel said yes and looked away. He wasn’t doing well. Ruben looked at each class and offered a resource. The Link Leaders had been trained in all the academic support options that EHS offered.

 

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posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 9/17/2014 | Category: Inspiration

Welcome back! Hopefully this newsletter finds you happily and healthily into the start of another new year.

Isn’t it interesting that, as teachers, we get to experience two “new years”; we get the one in December that the rest of the world gets, and we also get this one, the one happening right now as the school year begins anew. And, although maybe not consciously, it could be argued that we bring many of the same traditions and feelings to the beginning of this “new year” that we do to that other new year.  Think about it…

We make resolutions:

This year I WILL grade and get all my papers back to students within the same week!

We see hope and possibility:

I can’t wait to meet all my new students this year and change their lives!

We celebrate:

Hey fellow staff members, let’s all go out to the coffee shop/bar and have a couple of lattes/tasty beverages to really start this year off right!

We look back on the year that has passed:

Holy cow, last year was amazing/terrifying. I hope this year is just as good/waaaay better.

Also similar to the other, more traditional New Year, it’s often difficult to find the necessary time to reflect on what the past year really meant for us. Often, we get busy right away declaring what we’re going to do in this upcoming year and/or reporting out what happened in the last year.  That can make it hard to find the time to think about the significance the last year held for us relative to our own growth, learning and personal “ah-ha” moments. We’re so focused on what the year was (Good? Bad? ) that we rarely ask ourselves What did I learn? or How did I grow?

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 8/20/2014 | Category: Inspiration

At Beverly Hills High School, they replaced their entire admin team except the principal this year. The only Link trained person in the building just got promoted to AP and they were scrambling at school start. How did they manage to have an incredibly successful Link program and school start? They relied on the Link Leaders.

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posted by: Carolyn Hill 4/17/2014 | Category: Inspiration

According to Wikipedia (and we all know that is a completely valid source), there is a private initiative to have the third Thursday of April be recognized and celebrated as “National High Five Day”. We say, why not. It’s official from the Boomerang Project. Today, April 17, is National High Five Day!

It seems only natural that we would celebrate this day since the High Five seems to be the official Boomerang Project greeting. Think about the number of High Fives you got at your Basic Training. Those of you fellow High Fivers out there loved it. Those of you who don’t dig them…c’mon, even you got into the swing of the High Five during those three days. I bet that you even went back to school the next morning, started to high five someone and then realized you were back at school and maybe it wasn’t appropriate. Today we say loudly and clearly, it’s not just appropriate, it’s essential and awesome! You know you want to. Go ahead, do it!

The history of the High Five is imprecise at best.  Most of the legends associate it with sports, mostly from the late 70s to early 80s. Does it really matter if it was a couple of baseball players (the Dodgers’ Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke) or the University of Louisville Cardinals’ basketball team? All that we know is that life became more joyous, more celebratory and more fun with the invention of the High Five. No one person or small group of people needs credit for that. The legacy itself is their credit.

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posted by: Micah Jacobson 3/26/2014 | Category: Inspiration

We (Carolyn and Micah) are in the middle of our road warrior season. This is the season of Basic Trainings and Advanced Courses and we are hopeful we will get to see many of you!

Although we love what we do, I have to tell you, the road is a hard place to be sometimes. Long days of training and putting out lots of energy for educators are sometimes followed by lonely hotel room nights, long plane flights and deeply missing our loved ones back home. It can sometimes feel like we are alone, even when surrounded by people.

Does that every happen for you? You may not be on a plane, but springtime can often be lonely for teachers too. The endless winter, the kids who seem to stop working, the ever increasing demands from administration, parents, students, friends, family and ourselves can easily start to create a pocket of isolation where it can sometimes feel like we are alone.

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posted by: Carolyn Hill 2/12/2014 | Category: Inspiration

Getting through the world can sometimes feel hard. And then there it is. A reminder that is so simple. So obvious.

There is was. A gaggle of children (I’m guessing a second or third grade class) walking along the sidewalk probably on a small fieldtrip of some sort. As only 7-8 year olds can do, they were all over the place. With only one adult in the front and one adult in the rear, I wondered if they would all make the entire round trip without injury.

But then something happened. As they approached a busy intersection, they all formed up, two by two, grasped hands and settled into safely crossing the street. I giggled at the sight and as I looked in my rearview mirror I was struck by how much that brief moment is all we need to know to get through the world; and what WEB and Link Crew do for your school community.

So many thoughts ran through my head as I watched these little kids.

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