Mawi Asgedom delivered the back-to-school convocation keynote to the White Bear staff and teachers this year. He is a great speaker with a very inspiring life story and a well delivered message. You can read about his life's journey from a refugee camp to Harvard in his memoir Of Beetles and Angles.
He told many great stories from his own perspective about how small acts of reaching out on a teacher's part can make HUGE impact on students - especially with the "invisible" students who otherwise go unnoticed.
One exercise he told us about that he uses with students is to have them focus on three things: a challenge, a hobby and a dream.
Once they have these things in mind they are to pick one of these areas to take action on this week. This is a great way to help students improve their own lives and a great way to help them feel empowered. This would be a great activity to start at the beginning of the year. As students take on one area they may add others in the subsequent weeks. What if you did this with your own life? We could really accomplish great things!