Re: Time to Train Another SPL
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET)
Fri, 11 Sep 1998 15:35:39 -0400
<Peter Murphy said>
Last week was our troop elections. It is my habit to have an hour or so talk
with the new Senior Patrol Leader to discuss his duties and
responsibilities, my expectations, and to discuss his choices for the
appointed positions within the troop.
Ryan was not present at the elections... He said he'd call me back after he
checked with his father's schedule...
He has not called back.
Ryan probably doesn't know what to expect yet. He may have some pretty clear
ideas on what he wants to do as SPL, but he doesn't know what you expect
from him. He'll only find this out when he finally sits down and talks with
you about the position. Until he knows that you expect him to be reliable
and punctual (among other things obviously) he will need some gentle
prodding. I would have called him back after giving him a suitable amount of
time to call me on his own.
BTW, it doesn't matter how old the Scout is. Whether he's 13 or 16 he's
still going to need time to adjust to the position and define it for
himself. Some 13yr olds I know could take over a troop and start running it
well in a matter of weeks. Some 16yr olds I know would need a few months to
get into the swing of things.
<Steven Tobin said>
Perhaps the hardest thing to learn about working with Scouts is how much
"guidance" each Scout needs at any given point in his development. Interpret
guidance as pushing. This is how I came to look at the situation.
Draw an graph for each Scout ... The path between these two points is where
it get interesting. It is never (well, almost never) a straight line, and it
is seldom always in the right direction. Our job, as Scout leaders, is to
guide each Scout along that line, providing whatever guidance is needed at
any given time, without over-doing it. As we know, each boy is going to
progress at different rates, so it is hard to set firm guideposts for any
stage. Observation of the Scout, his behavior, and a familiarity with a
boy's developemental stages is about all we have to go on.
I fail to see how your graph can be of much use. Yes, it allows you to track
his progress, but it won't be able to show you a trend until it's too late.
It can be used to compare different Scouts, but all that will do is show you
how different they are from each other, a fact you already know.
Furthermore, you're graphing a statistical constant (age) with a perceptive
variable (guidance) which means several graphs of the same Scout would vary
wildly depending on who's doing the observing.
You don't say how old your new SPL is, but one would tend to expect a
certain level of capability from an Eagle Scout. Apparently, though, he
isn't up to the task yet.
This is what really got me about this thread. The Scout was elected to a
position, asked to meet with the SM, and never did. All within the span of
about a week. How can you determine if a Scout is up to the task if he
hasn't even gotten a chance to do it yet. Yes he failed to call the SM back.
Big deal, it happens all the time. If you make a big issue about it you
better be prepared. One day he'll call you and ask you to call him back. A
Scout old enough to be an Eagle Scout and SPL is still a Scout (still a
youth) and will make mistakes until he learns how to avoid them. It is
possible he forgot about the call, or forgot to ask his dad, or forgot the
SM meant THIS weekend, or maybe even didn't think it was all that important.
Can we condemn him without at least making an effort to correct him?
Shouldn't the SM at least try.
<Peter Farnham said>
One experiment I'm implementing this year is a performance self-apraisal. I
wrote in our latest issue of the newsletter that all elected or appointed
leaders, upon completion of their term of office, would be asked to give me
a short self-appraisal where they would adress four points:
l. How they think they did compared to the points in the job description I
give each of them at the beginning of their term (found in the JLT training
2. How they think they could improve
3. What new leadership position they would like to hold and why
4. What they would do if they were to end up in that position.
It seems to me, Peter, what you are talking about is an evaluation.
Something leaders are supposed to do all the time. What good does it do them
to evaluate themselves AFTER their term is up? Further, all of this is
supposed to come out during Scoutmaster Conferences with the junior leaders.
You know, the ones you have whenever you can. Why not simply sit down with
them upon occasion and ask them how what they're doing compares to the job
description. Why not ask them after every campout how they think they can
improve on the job they've done, or the process involved. The development of
effective leadership skills doesn't involve steps! It's a gradual incline,
and the terrain is determined by the individual's abilities, confidence,
motivation, and capacity to see how things could be better.
I've never done this before and have not seen it offered up as an idea
before on this list, so I'd be curious as to your reactions.
I stres that this is not an exam--you can't pass or fail it. ; It is merely
a tool to help me and the scout assess how they did as a leader durin their
tenure. It also serves as a basis of discussion during our SM conference.
Okay, so I didn't read far enough. Personally, I wouldn't let them write it
down. And I still say it should be an ongoing thing, like whenever something
big has been accomplished. Please remember that there are two kinds of
Scoutmaster Conferences: the required kind that you need to advance, and the
kind that helps you figure out where you're going and how to get there.
I'll let you know how it goes in the coming months. I've already gotten two
self-assessments from my SPL and ASPL. My SPL apparently doesn't think he
has any faults :<) . Spoke a lot about how, if he'd only known X or Y or Z
wh;en he started, he'd have done better, and if he ever gets elected SPL
again he'll REALLY do well. So....it should be an interesting SM conference.
Ask yourself, after reading his assessment, whether the Scout would have
benefited more from an evaluation of his performance with your help. The
type of evaluation you describe leaves the subject open to too many
questions like "How would have knowing X helped you do better?" In affect,
you've gotten him to think about his own performance, but you haven't helped
him grow from the experience. He's not using the lessons he learned in this
job to do better in the next job. For the evaluation to be useful, you need
to be there to help him see the things he learned that he didn't realize he
learned; and how to apply them to the next job.
I'd be interested in how others on the list evaluate the completion of the
leadership requirement. I believe (I don't have the quotation in front of
me) the SM handbook calls teaching leadership the SM's most important job.
Developing leadership skills is one of the most important jobs of the SM.
What you seem to misunderstand is that there is no evaluation required:
"While a First Class Scout, serve actively 4 months in one or more troop
positions of responsibility."
"While a Star Scout, serve actively 6 months in one or more troop positions
"While a Life Scout, serve actively 6 months in one or more troop positions
We evaluate the leadership abilities of our junior leaders not to complete a
leadership requirement, but to help them grow as leaders. If they don't do a
particularly good job as 1st Class they've still served actively for however
long they serve. Hopefully they will have learned about their mistakes and
developed ways to work around them, otherwise they'll quickly become
ineffective. Advancement isn't affected by leadership abilities, but the
survival of the troop and patrol is.
A. J. Mako, firstname.lastname@example.org , Scoutmaster Troop 381
Home of the Unofficial Win95 Boy Scout Desktop Theme,
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council, BSA
"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)"
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City