Being an educator is a very rewarding experience and I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else for a living. Some people say teaching is a calling and I think this is true. It being a calling is what has kept me in the field after so many others have left after one or two years. It’s what’s encouraged me to further my education to get my Master’s degree and it’s also the reason that I made this blog.
I love teaching and I have a passion for education. I teach high school kids all day long but I enjoy teaching adults and my brethren just as much.
Education is one of those career fields where you can tell if you are doing a good job because you receive more responsibilities. I personally don’t like to turn down opportunities because I see them as avenues for personal and professional growth even though this usually means more will be expected of me. Sometimes this is a burden but just as often it can be a blessing.
For example, becoming the advisor for our student council has been nothing short of a blessing even though it can be very overwhelming from time to time.
Student councils can be a lot of things but overall they are student-led organizations created to help students to develop leadership skills they will need once they graduate.
As a StuCo (short for student council) advisor, I have taken my students to leadership conferences and camps as well as attended a few just for advisors. In most cases I have learned just as much as my students have and, if you are wondering how this is relevant to Freemasonry, I have made some observations that may be beneficial to some lodges.
“What if I told you that I have seen this, along with other small changes, completely revitalize a student council? If this is true, why can’t these concepts be applied elsewhere with similar degrees of success? Why can’t we adopt this idea for our lodges?”
You see, both organizations have similar purposes in that they are taking people and working to make them better. One of the most effective practices that are recommended by the TASC (Texas Association of Student Councils) is the creation of some very specific committees. Of course, a committee that doesn’t do anything is pointless but we will talk about that later.
So what are the committees that TASC recommends?
- D.A.S.H. (Drugs, Alcohol, Safety, and Health)
- Energy and Environment
- Community Service
- Pride and Patriotism
- Executive Committee (Consists of StuCo officers)
That’s it. You can add or subtract committees if you feel its necessary and you have the membership to do it though.
Each committee consists of members which answer to a committee chair who, in turn, answers to the officers. The executive board oversees all of the committees and helps each of them out however possible.
Now, what if I told you that I have seen this, along with other small changes, completely revitalize a student council? If this is true, why can’t these concepts be applied elsewhere with similar degrees of success? Why can’t we adopt this idea for our lodges?
Putting The Ideas To Work
You may be telling yourself right now that most lodges already have committees in place. I’m not trying to introduce committees as though they are a completely new concept to our fraternity. What I’m really hoping to introduce here is a new way to implement committees to help improve your lodge and drive activity.
So how can you implement something like this in your lodge?
Committees put power into the hands of the membership and can really help your lodge move in the right direction…assuming you know what direction you want to take, so it’s important that your lodge has a vision and goals before you do anything.
Once you know what direction you want to take the lodge then you should have an idea of what types of committees you need. Obviously, the same committees that work for student council may not work for your lodge, so here are some additional committee ideas:
- Community outreach
- Fraternal ties (This committee makes effort to reach out to brethren who are not active in the lodge)
- Leadership retreats (Fun get-togethers outside the lodge)
- And so on…
What We Need And Who Will Do It
Once you’ve decided what committees you need then it’s time to find members. A committee works best when the members care about the purpose of the committee but we’ve all been there when a Worshipful Master asks for volunteers and hears nothing but crickets. It’s a tough call here because this is a volunteer organization…but then again so is StuCo and our policy is that everybody is on a committee. Of course, the amount of effort you dedicate to your committee is completely up to you.
“Committees put power into the hands of the membership and can really help your lodge move in the right direction.”
How many committees you need and want can and should vary by lodge as well. A large lodge may have the membership and resources to implement several committees while a small lodge may only be able to implement one or two. This is fine, just be sure the committee you form will help you to achieve the lodges vision and goals for that year.
Committee Visions and Goals
Once the committees are formed and chairs are appointed (we elect them in StuCo) then it’s time for the committee to create its own vision and goals for the year. This isn’t as redundant as it may seem, after all, the lodge already has a vision and goals, but a committee’s vision and goals should align with those of the lodge but they also indicate how the committee intends to accomplish them.
So a lodge vision and goals state “This is what we intend to do” and a committee has a vision and a goal that states “This is how we will do our part to accomplish it”.
Plan Your Programs
The next step is to plan your year. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to get a large desk calendar and start writing down what programs each committee intends to run each month. How many programs are run a month can vary and it really depends on the size of your lodge. I have a small student council (less than 50 students) and we run about two big programs a month.
I think it’s a good rule of thumb to try and have at least one program a month, even if it’s something small. Programs are the lifeblood of your committees and the committees create activity in your lodge
If you’re having trouble thinking of programs then look at what holidays there are each month. Can you do a Veteran’s Day program? What about an Angel Tree for Christmas? There are also several months that encourage some type of awareness, for example, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and everybody knows somebody that has been affected by cancer so do a program for that. October also has Red Ribbon week so why don’t you see if your local schools need help with their program?
“So a lodge vision and goals state “This is what we intend to do” and a committee has a vision and a goal that states “This is how we will do our part to accomplish it”.”
Also look at your community. What types of problems are present? Is there anything you can do to help improve it?
For programs to be effective and run well the committee needs to meet so that it can plan and discuss on a regular basis. My StuCo kids meet with their committees after each meeting, so why can’t we do the same thing? The meetings don’t have to be long, just long enough for everyone to touch base, discuss what is coming up, and evaluate any programs they may have just completed.
After you have completed a program it’s highly recommended that a committee evaluate its effectiveness. Did it accomplish the goal? What problems presented themselves? How can we improve it next time? Is it worth doing another time? These are all important questions to ask yourself if you want to ensure that each program is the best it can be.
All I’ve done is observe how effective the way committees are implemented in student council organizations and work to apply those same concepts to Masonic lodges. This isn’t a “size fits all” solution because every lodge is unique but this approach has done wonders to rejuvenate several various student councils, including my own, by generating activity, doubling my membership, and creating enthusiasm and excitement.
Student councils and Masonic Lodges are both volunteer organizations dedicated to the improvement of its membership so why can’t successful concepts from student council be applied to Masonic Lodges with some degree of success?