- Introduce myself.
- Get to know my new students.
- Make everybody comfortable.
- Establish respect.
- Make our class feel different.
- Teach manners.
- Foster new, positive roles for the members of our class.
- Practice procedures.
- Raise expectations.
On the fourth day of class, we used the windbags (pictured) to illustrate the difference between a good leader and an ineffective leader. Students huffed and puffed to try to blow up these long tubes, but failed miserably. Of course, that was the point. First, I had not given them any specific instructions for easily inflating the tubes, and second, there is a scientific principle of which each of them was unaware (It's all about Bernoulli, but that's for another time.). All of the blowing and light-headedness in the world is only minimally successful at this point.
And yet, the teacher can inflate the tube in a single breath.
Obviously, the tube is larger than the capacity of my own lungs, so how is this possible?
Just like an effective leader, I had to step back from the situation and not just dive right in. With the windbags, that means I need to stay six or eight inches back, away from the opening. In this way, my single breath attracts the air around it which then follows my breath into the bag. Again, this is akin to good leadership; instead of jumping right in and doing all of the work myself, I need to develop the skills to bring people, willingly, along with me. For a positive leader, this means less work and a more effective team.
The windbags help us establish a working relationship in which all work toward a single goal. I'll gladly take some time out at the beginning of the year to get that ball rolling in the right direction!