Five leadership lessons I learned in the Arizona Desert

2 minutes to read

Halli Florence is a Canadian supply teacher living and working in Reading. Earlier this year, Halli had the opportunity to travel to Tucson, Arizona to take part in the Me to We Advanced Facilitation Training course, designed to expand her classroom leadership skills. Halli returned from her trip having learned lots of valuable lessons, and she’s been generous enough to share them with us too.

Bags packed, I headed for the melting heat of the Arizona sun. After half a year of teaching in the UK, this was my next adventure. By the time I met the thirty other attendees (and two domesticated wolves) at the Windsong Peace Centre, I was ready and waiting for plenty of fun and learning.

I was on the edge of being the oldest on this trip, and the only teacher among so many fresh high school graduates. I was nervous about being the outsider, but I needn’t have worried – I was inspired by the wonderment of my new 16-18 year old friends!

My jaw dropped in amazement at Me to We’s Advanced Facilitation Training. There were so many opportunities to listen and learn from one another, our facilitators and guest speakers/performers. I feel blessed that I was able to attend these phenomenal discussions. They were truly life-changing.

Add in the amazing clear skies, landscape and food, and it’s no wonder we didn’t want to go home after our ten days in the desert.

I took in so many wonderful stories, philosophies and brilliant ways of living that I can’t wait to bring back to the classroom and apply to my own teaching. The most incredible things I took away from the training are as follows:

  • Storytelling is therapy for the soul. When we have people we can share our stories with, it allows us to truly understand the perspective of others and vice versa.
  • Create a safe space for discussions of social justice, equity and world issues. It allows everyone to feel comforted by talking about anything they would like to without hurting or disrupting other people’s values in the most respectable way possible.
  • We all have two wolves inside us: the dark wolf and the light wolf. The dark wolf is the alpha and the voice of the partnership, while the light wolf is wise and knows when and where to say things when the time is right. Finding the balance between the two is important in communication.
  • To speak in inclusive language means avoiding any words that could be classed as discriminatory.
  • Having people support you and care for you is the greatest gift anyone can ever have. Happiness is not the amount of money in your pocket, it’s having moments of richness, smiles and kind acts.

I have already implemented a safe space in my classroom with my students, and I’m bringing more and more facilitation programming into my teaching. Watch this space!