I am offering a new assembly this year for high school students. Appropriate for both public and private school settings, my Curriculum of Confidence program empowers students to take control of their own futures.
It sounds ambitious, but really the premise is simple: It’s about Voice and Choice.
So many of today’s kids feel powerless. They are stressed out, scheduled to the hilt, and barely have time to make any decisions about their lives. The unintended consequence of this is they come to believe that they don’t have the ability to make any decisions about their lives.
We now know that feeling powerless over your life (having an “external locus of control,” in psychological terms) can lead to dangerous behaviors such as addiction, so it is very important that kids today understand that they do have control over what happens to them.
The first thing I do is make them aware:
We discuss the 64-million-ton gorilla in the room: the stress. It is very stressful to feel powerless. Actually, it is stressful and scary, so anxiety often comes into play, too. You can palpably feel the relief emanate from the group when we start talking about the stress kids face today. As you know if you read this blog, I call it “The Bombardment.” I then give several techniques for the kids to manage stress and anxiety.
Managing is all well and good, but it doesn’t solve the problem. So we talk about how to actually reduce the stress: this is where Voice and Choice come into play.
I remind the kids that they are ultimately in control of their choices, for good and bad. We have a discussion about how that feels, and about consequences, both intended and unintended. And we talk about outcomes.
Having choices is empowering. But what steers those choices?
The next part of the assembly gives students some exercises to help them figure out what their passions are. Until you know what you are passionate about, it is difficult to make good choices.
Please note that I am talking about passions here, hopes and dreams. Not ambitions—not the kids’ nor their parents’. What are their hopes and dreams for their futures? Without a passion keystone, ambitions feel empty, and it can be tough to set goals, both short- and long-term. Hell, it can be tough to get out of bed in the morning.
The final step in the process is I teach the kids how to make plans for their lives, set benchmarks, and commit to following their plans. Most importantly, I get the kids to commit to EACH OTHER, so they can hold each other accountable. This is where the Voice comes in: they have a plan that expresses their vision for their lives—who they are. They share their plan with peers. In doing this, they are themselves: not other people’s vision of who they are, or them trying to be someone they are not to please another person. They are taking the first step towards finding their voice.
The Curriculum of Confidence is just one assembly; I have no delusions about how many kids will actually follow their plans with no follow-up support. But to just plant the seed that all this is possible can be life-changing for today’s teenagers. Some will move forward with their plans, and others will realize they need help, either because of poor choices they have made or other internal or external obstacles (I talk a lot about the obstacles that can impede us from following our passion) that are preventing them from moving forward.
Sounds dry as sand, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s fun. I use humor and music, and there is a lot of audience participation. If your school has students who are interested in playing music on stage with me, I send a song list in advance and come a bit early for a rehearsal.
This assembly is a shortened, modified version of the workshop I have done with hundreds of high-school and college athletic teams. Here is what one coach had to say:
After two hours with Jeff not a single boy in the room had checked the time. It was a transformative experience for us. Jeff has a gift in reading people and fundamentally wants to improve our outlook on our seasons, our relationships and our lives…. He created a powerfully trusting and positive environment. He is a healer, a motivator, an entertainer and always an ally.
—Chip Davis, Athletic Director & Coach, Deerfield Academy
The flyer you see is for high school (public and private) assemblies. I can also do this program for smaller groups; in that setting, I am able to do individual sessions with participants so we can really firm up the plans. Or I can do both: an assembly to kick things off, and then make regular return visits for kids who want to move forward—or are having problems moving forward. I can train teachers to support the kids with their plans.
I also give a Curriculum of Confidence presentation to groups of parents and their teenagers; it’s a powerful way to learn what really makes your kid tick and teaches you new ways to truly communicate with each other. This program is perfect for athletic teams, PTA’s, religious organizations…I have even done it as a program in a restaurant. Anywhere parents and teenagers can get together, it works. These programs are priced differently from the assembly: please inquire.
For more information on the Curriculum of Confidence, or on any of my programs or individual coaching, please don’t hesitate to contact me.