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Matt Boey

7/27/15
UNIV 392
I Am A Leader: Paper 2
As the first day of SEaL approached, I found myself mildly caught off guard. While other
College Coaches discussed their well-planned lessons for the week, I slowly felt pressured to edit
our loose outline into something much more structured. The night before SEaL began, our
cohort called an emergency meeting to quickly piece together a detailed itinerary of the
following days class. After a two hour grind, we had created a lesson, a backup, and enough
contingencies to rival the most tedious and paranoid planners.
Thus as our students strolled into the Crown Center, I felt extremely confident that the
reception of that days lesson would be positive, possibly even life changing. That confidence
slowly waned with the expressions on our students faces, which progressively moved from
attentively focused to flatly bored. As the lesson concluded and students were moved from their
light sleep, we decided to ask for feedback as to how they wanted things for the next three week,
with each student writing down a list of things they like and didnt about our lesson.
When we reviewed their comments that night, the two main critiques we found was
ironic: they disliked the rigidity of our class, and noted that our lesson seemed forced and
inorganic. With this in mind, we elected to do something radical and scrap everything. The next
day we went in with no plan, no topics, and no definitive direction for where we wanted to lead
the class. Following our activity period, we sat outside of Madonna Della Strada and did an
extended version of an icebreaker known as Hotspot. Each College Coach would have five
minutes to sit in the middle of a circle, and during this time students could ask any question that
came to mind, regardless of it related to college or not.
The following hour was one of the most fruitful and enriching experiences Ive had with
students. Though we began with relatively superficial questions, we gradually talked about

things that the students were internally concerned with, such as their academic standing, their
resumes for college, their financial options to enter college, and the social atmosphere of high
school. We knocked out more material in that one hour alone than a whole week of lessons
simply barking at them in a classroom.
Though it did sting, the criticism we received gave our group a different perspective on
what our role was to these students. We had previously created our lessons with a very directive
mindset, specifically that there would be a clear line between us as mentors, and them as
students. However, our cohort did not need another classroom with three teachers to talk at
them about the collegiate experience. They wanted a friend, someone to pass on realistic,
practical experience. Being able to adapt appropriately to their needs was crucial part of the
success of that week, and to our general ability as leaders.