Attendance

Today I braved the almost-closed I-90 (thank you, WSDOT) to get to Seattle by 9:30am. I did this because I had said I would.

Every year, Team Read has a five-hour training session for its tutors. These tutors are high school students, and anyone wishing to bemoan the state of teenagers this day had better get ready to adjust their expectations, because I was with 139 of them and not one of them had their cell phone out, or their headphones in, for five hours (except lunch break).

Not one.

These kids showed up for five hours of training on how to do their job: they were going to be tutoring 2nd and 3rd grade students after school in one of a dozen schools in the Seattle area. They learned how to cajole difficult kids (you know… the ones who constantly negotiate, the ones who want to play, the ones who don’t want to admit they need help) and how to understand that these kids may come from different backgrounds (social, emotional, religious, cultural) than  their own.  They read articles, they participated in discussion, they had breakout groups, they, in short, did everything I see people doing in the developer world every day.

In exchange they got two slices of pizza, a bottle of water, some carrots and a granola bar. They also were prepared for their jobs for the next ten months.

We also had fifth-year tutors: these were kids who have been tutors four years running, and arrived to volunteer… for five hours… to make things run smoothly. They helped direct kids. They passed out pens. They dished out granola bars, pizza, water bottles, articles, t-shirts, and advice. They were uniformly engaged.

Too often we have meetings where someone whips out a cell phone (yourself included) because the conversation has digressed, or the material is uninteresting. Too often I have seen adults be at a meeting, but not actually attend it.

If the purpose of a meeting is to come to resolution or consensus on a particular topic (or set of topics), and/or to become informed on said topic, then the very least any adult can do is actually attend the meeting — and not just physically. Because I have proof that 130+ teenagers can, on their Saturday.

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