I love the term ‘life-long learner’.
Maybe because it gives me a pass for not knowing information or just being plain uninformed.
When I began my nonprofit organization, I did so thinking that I would save teens and young adults from “being ignorant” to the manners, behaviors, or understanding of what it takes to be a leader, but, what I found was they were not the ones learning…it was me.
Since the fall of 2015, I have worked or spoken to thousands of young people. Not understanding the nuances of leading a nonprofit, I observed many other groups not seeming to work so hard, obtaining grants and receiving donations and I thought, “Huh. I must need to work harder.”
So I put my efforts into hyper gear, and watched as I was passed over by groups with snappy names, athlete nods, or established giving patterns.
This summer, it became very clear.
Often times grant money is given to nonprofits who paint a bright picture. They fulfill the need of the granting agency to offer a program on paper to the board of directors. Unfortunately, this board seldom comes to see how their funds are used.
As I worked with a group this summer, things struck me as being so wasteful. Staff members, instead of assisting me, sought out their phones when I was trying to engage 50-65 eighth graders in activities. It was this lack of support that I began to learn most from. People need to feel a passion for what they do. If they are just taking up space, they will give back dead air.
If management hasn’t been established from the start, or even if there is some kind of management system, support is the key. A staff of young leaders should know that their presence among the restless crew of young teens is critical to the success of the program. Interesting activities and lessons should stand alone, but unfortunately, the drive to cut up, text, play games on phones, is foremost in the minds of 8th graders.
It really was a revelation for me.
You can’t assume your leaders know how to lead.
I know and have long lived among the middle school aged students. My success in teaching was not because I knew it all, but because I had seasoned and likeminded teachers around me. Collaboration to enhance learning and bring lessons to the maximum interest happened all the time!
Light Bulb moment!
Okay, so I am a slow learner.
I decided in August, with the assistance and backing of my board of directors, that I needed to change my focus from students to teachers. They are the catalysts of success for student learning and success. AND they are not being supported.
Palanca Leadership has changed its mission.
We still want to support life skills toolkits for young adults. But more than that, we want to support the teachers who feel like the joy is being sucked out of this chosen career. Michigan is among many states in our country losing teachers to other professions because it is just so much easier.
I don’t think I would be doing this today if I didn’t believe that teachers are the driving force behind all professions. AND good ones are leaving.
I have had so many students over the years that are making me proud. They own their own companies. They are doctors, lawyers, PhDs, honest, hardworking adults who are the fabric of our nation. I am so proud to know them.
Teachers watch. Teachers model behavior.
WE ARE SUPPORTING EARLY CAREER TEACHERS.
Giving Tuesday is coming up in November.