Are you smarter than an 8th grader?

By Shannon Gullickson, Talent Programs Director

No! was the overwhelming response of current Leadership Institute participants during last week’s “Educating our Community’s Future Leaders” session.

Greater Mankato Growth’s Leadership Institute is known for bringing together some of the best and brightest talent working in our community today. So you may ask, how can these participants be outsmarted by 8th graders? Through technology – that’s how!

Although education has been a Leadership Institute session topic for many years, input this year from Mankato Area Public Schools’ Media and Professional Development Departments provided the impetus for our Leadership participants and current students to work together on presentations about several innovative programs that serve parents and students in Greater Mankato. Instead of just hearing about these programs, which included Early Childhood, Parent Education & Engagement, High School Diploma Cohort, Homeless Students, Students in Poverty, AVID and others, class members gathered information in teams and then visited Dakota Meadows Middle School to seek the help of junior high students in determining the best way to create an electronic presentation on each topic. As each team of Leadership Institute participants met with one or two 8th graders it was evident today’s adults aren’t always aware of the technological resources available to assist them in their daily work – some of which are even available for free. Students were able to provide suggestions on which programs or applications to use. In addition they demonstrated how technology is used in the classroom to gauge in real-time how well students are grasping the concepts being taught. They also shared their thoughts and opinions with their groups in regard to how students learn and interact in today’s electronic age. Some were even included in their team’s video presentation!

Through this interaction, Leadership Institute participants were impacted in ways they didn’t expect.

“I am so impressed with the Dakota Meadows students and their ability to be flexible, responsive, creative and work as a team. What a great future Mankato will have with these students leading the way,” commented one Leadership participant.

“I was amazed at how the students have such immediate feedback in the education process,” said another participant. “This helped me better understand why the working culture is being so challenged by the millennials. They come out of school expecting this type of environment in the workplace.”

A third participant commented “As someone who is older, it was enlightening to see how we teach today. It will be something I use when thinking through how we train our employees.

Special thanks goes out to Tracy Brovold, Director of Media & Technology Services; Marti Sievek, Professional Development Coordinator and Dale Engman, Instructional Technology Coordinator for their time and expertise in helping to create this unique part of the February Leadership Institute Session.

About Leadership Institute of Greater Mankato.

Applications for the 2016-17 Greater Mankato Leadership Institute will be available starting in March  The next program will run September through May and the application deadline is June 1, 2016.