Learning to Lead in California

Alzar School | 27.09.12

While our recent expedition to California did feature technical kayaking, Pacific coast surfing, picturesque waterfalls and raging whitewater, the students have also returned to campus as more confident and able leaders. This expedition was the first opportunity for students to serve of Leaders of the Day (LODs), a practice which is now continuing as a daily part of life on campus. In teams of two or three students the LODs are in charge of designing a daily plan and briefing the group on this plan the evening before they take charge. For the LOD team of Charlotte and Grady this meant a carefully designed whiteboard with scheduled time slots for each activity. Inevitably, every day on expedition was “a big day” in the words of our LODs, as they worked to motivate their peers for all the exciting adventures the coming day would hold. And the next morning we’d wake up in expedition mode with our packs ready as our ticket to breakfast.

Alec and Karley carefully led us down the Trinity River, aiding in rescues for any kayak swimmers before navigating our van ride further West. Katherine, Ines and Crosby, while aware of lingering blisters by the end of our backpacking trip, made the smart decision to take a shorter route for our final hike out. Lexi and Aaron confidently introduced the Alzar School at our leadership panel with Humbolt State University students and helped facilitate our group discussion.

In the evening each student leader would critique themselves and receive feedback from their peers based on the various elements of leadership. For Liam and Wesley this meant demonstrating 360ยบ thinking so that we could see the sunrise over Crater Lake before heading back to Idaho. Students recognized the challenges in motivating their peers and learned from experience the value of an inspiring vision, strong communication skills and resiliency when faced with unexpected obstacles.

As we settle back into our on campus routine, I have definitely noticed a positive change. Students are taking greater initiative in accomplishing tasks, they function as a more cohesive group, and they think critically about opportunities to both lead and follow.

SJ Byce
Teaching Fellow