In-Depth 2021: Post 4

Progress report:  

These past two weeks, I met twice with my mentor Cassandra, and I have finally finished my ongoing cake! The first step was to fill the cakes with the buttercream and ganache that I had made in previous weeks. First, I cut my two cakes in half, creating four layers. Around each lay, I piped a rim of buttercream, and then filled the layer with the ganache, and finally stacked the layers on top of each other

The next step was to ice the cake. I used a metal spatula and placed large globs of the buttercream onto the outside of the cake. Then I smoothed out the buttercream with the spatula. This first layer is called the ‘crumb coat’. I chilled the cake with only the first coat of icing overnight in the fridge. 

Once i took the cake out of the fridge the following day, I decorated the cake with the leftover ganache and piped a rim of buttercream around the top of the cake. This final step was the most fun; I created a huge mess, and I got to see the whole cake come together. When piping the buttercream and doing the drips around the cake with the ganache, I only had one chance to get it right, so I tried really hard to make it as perfect as possible. I’m really happy with the result, especially since it’s my first cake! And it tasted delicious!  

How to have a Beautiful Mind  

The next two chapter of How to Have a Beautiful Mind are “How to Listen,” and “Questions.” The first of these chapters covers topics such as finding value in conversations by listening and learning. Some of the strategies De Bono presents are repeating back what a speaker has said to clarify, summarizing by condensing and repeating back, and asking more details surrounding points that interest you. One quote that stood out to me was this: “There are few things uglier than a listener who does not want to listen and is only waiting for the moment that he or she can speak” (67). Another good quote was “Talking only rarely gives you something new” (67). 

The next of the two chapters covers how to ask the best questions and why we ask them. This chapter discusses the uses of both fishing and shooting questions, as well as multiple choice questions and asking more modifications. One quote that explains nicely why we ask questions is this: “We use questions to get someone to direct his or her attention to something we want or want to know” (78). 

What new information am I getting and what questions did I ask to probe further into the topic? 

During these past two weeks, I have gotten a lot of new information from my mentor as I filled and decorated my cake. One example of when I received information that I probed further into was when learning how to pipe the rim of buttercream around the edge of the cake. Cassandra, my mentor, was explaining how to pipe little “shells” on the cake, and I asked several questions to clarify and confirm that I was executing the skill correctly. Before even beginning to pipe, I had to fill the piping bag with buttercream, choose a piping tip, and cut a hole in the piping bag for the piping tip to fit in. One example of a questions I asked to confirm that I was completing each of these steps correctly was this 

Is there a certain amount I should cut off the tip of the piping bag?”  

I also asked questions such as “How should I hold the piping bag?” and “Which piping tips should I use for this skill?”  

All of these probing questions helped me decorate the cake as perfectly as possible.  

Discuss any new points of view I developed while in conversation with my mentor. 

While I was decorating the cakes, I made quite a mess, because the liquid ganache was getting everywhere, and I had so many dirty dishes. As I went, I was washing my dishes so that I could clear space and feel a bit tidier.  

“I usually just put them in the dishwasher while baking, and if they can’t go in the dishwasher, I just wash them before continuing baking,” I explained during our meeting.  

Cassandra, on the other hand, mentioned that she neatly puts all her dishes to the side while baking, and then cleans them all at once at the end. To me, this showed how well-organized Cassandra must be to keep her station clean and still only need to wash dishes at the end. This was a new point of view I developed, and I will now strive to keep my kitchen more organized while I bake so that I do not have to be constantly doing dishes and cleaning up.  


What were some of the alternative perceptions that are new to me? 

As I discussed in the previous header, one of the alternate perceptions I gained while meeting with my mentor was keeping my station neat and tidy while baking. This was a challenge for me because I am used to making a mess and then just cleaning up as I go. This strategy, however, wastes a lot of time cleaning up when I could be baking. So now, I put extra effort into keeping my kitchen clean as I work, so that I complete the task faster and more efficiently.  

How do my mentor’s values differ from my own? 

While baking and meeting with Cassandra, I have learned that she values a very clean and organized kitchen when she works. She always has everything neatly placed and teaches me lots of strategies to keep more organized. So far, have had to be more worried about the skills that being organized, and while I know keeping my station clean is important, I am usually alright if it’s a bit messy. On this point, Cassandra and I have differing values; she values a clean kitchen, while I am not so organized when I bake. I am going to continue to work on being more organized during out meetings so that I can learn to adopt that same value.  

What questions did I ask to check on facts and details? Elaborate. 

In previous posts, I have mentioned how my buttercream was a bit grainy from when I did not allow the butter to fully soften before whipping it. In our meeting before I started to fill the cakes, I asked Cassandra how I could possible fix this.  

She replied, “Put the buttercream in the microwave for a minute, then whip it with a hand mixer on high. Also, if it’s still separating, you can add a bit more butter.”  

“Why is it that that works? Putting it in the microwave, I mean,” I asked to follow up.  

She answered, “It will rewarm the butter, and it should hopefully work.”  

Through this exchange, I gained new knowledge, and in the end the buttercream looked perfect! As well, if I encounter the same problem in the future, I will know how to deal with it properly because of the information I now know.  

Ask questions. Record them. Why did ask these questions? 

During our meetings, I ask several questions, whether it’s to clarify a skill or to ask what to do next. The following are several of the questions I asked:  

“So, my buttercream is a bit grainy. I think it’s probably because the butter was not softened enough before I whipped it. Is there anything I can do, or someway I can fix it?” As I discussed in the previous header, my buttercream was not the right consistency. So, I asked Cassandra what I could do to fix this. Because I asked this question, I was able to fix the buttercream, and it turned out really fluffy and delicious!  


“How long should I whip the buttercream for it to reach the proper consistency?” After asking how I could fix the buttercream, I asked a clarifying question about how long I should whip it for. Her answer helped me confirm that I was doing everything correctly.  


“There’s one little part in the side of the cake that has a bit of a bump where there’s an indent in the icing. Can I just fill that with the buttercream?”  

Her reply: “Yes you can, absolutely.”  

After I had filled the cakes and had covered it in its first layer of buttercream, I had to chill the cake in the fridge for a day. When I took it out, I realized that on one side of the cake had bumped into something in the fridge, and there was a bit of a hole in the outside of the cake. By asking this question, I was able to fill the whole with leftover buttercream, and after some work, I couldn’t even tell that there had ever been an indent!   


When learning how to pipe the border around the cake with buttercream, a had to go through a step by step process to successfully decorate the cake. I asked several questions during this process, and the following is one of them: “So, for the buttercream, which do I do first: cut off the end of the piping bag, or place the piping tip in the bag?”  

Place the piping tip in the bag first so that we can measure where to cut the piping bag,” was her response.  

I than asked, “Is there a certain amount I should cut off the tip of the piping bag?”  

Cassandra explained, “You can measure where the piping tip opening ends, and then you can cut the piping bag there, so that about half of the tip will be able to come out of the bag.”  

Because I asked all these questions, I was able to complete this part of the process with precision that I would not have had if I had not asked these clarifying questions.  


“With the piping bag with the liquid ganache, how do I make it not spew everywhere?” When I put the ganache into a piping bag so that I could put the drips around the cake, the ganache was, of course, a liquid. So, when I cut a hole in the piping bag, the ganache immediately began to spew everywhere. I asked this question to see how I could make less of a mess. Cassandra’s answer was this: 

“I’d just place the piping bag in a Tupperware for now.”  

Ask for an explanation for a certain skill are learning. Discuss what happened. 

After I had filled the cakes, I had to them ice them with the buttercream. Cassandra explained that we would put two layer of buttercream on the cake: a ‘crumb coat’ and a final coat. I asked why we used two layers instead of just one thicker layer. Cassandra explained that the first layer was just to keep the cake crumbs out of the final layer of icing. Once you put the first layer of buttercream on, you can chill it in the fridge overnight, and then when you put on the second coat, none of the crumbs will get into the outer layer since they are all trapped in the ‘crumb coat.’ This leads to a more prettier looking finished cake.  

Ask a multiple-choice question. Was this useful? Explain. 


When I was beginning to pipe the buttercream around the edge of the cake, I asked a multiple-choice question to help me understand the process. I asked, “So, for the buttercream, which do I do first: cut off the end of the piping bag, or place the piping tip in the bag?” 

This question was very helpful as it helped narrow down the options, so the answer was quick, and I could continue what I was doing without much delay.  

Ask the speaker to clarify her underlying values for doing, thinking and feeling the way they do. 

When talking with Cassandra during our meeting, I found that she was constantly busy. During the meeting when I was decorating the cake, I asked her what she was doing this week. She replied, “I have a lot going on this week apparently. I have a photo shoot, which is a big cake and a bunch of little desserts that I have to make look really nice, and then I have massive cake for a birthday I’m working on.” 

By asking this question, I was able to understand just how busy Cassandra is, between running her own baking business and everything else she has to do, including out mentoring meetings. This made me even more appreciative that she spends the time every week to teach me cake decorating.  


Thanks again to Cassandra for helping me so much! And thank YOU for reading my post! Please feel free to comment any questions you have! 

In-Depth 2021: Post 3

Hello again everyone! This is my third blog post for my In-Depth 2021: cake decorating! 

Progress report

For these last two weeks, I have continued working on the cake I discussed in my previous post, as well as a few other skills. Because we are nearing Valentine’s Day, my mentor Cassandra has been super busy with her own baking business, so I was only able to meet with her once these past weeks, but I tried a few skills on my own when we were not meeting.  

For my ongoing cake, I made swiss meringue buttercream that will be used to fill the layers of the cake. This buttercream only used five ingredients: eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and a LOT of butter. For reference, one and a half cups of butter were added to the buttercream, while 400 grams of sugar was used. Making the buttercream took much longer than I thought it would, mostly because there were so many steps that had to be completed with precision, or else the recipe would not work.  

To start, I had to separate the seven egg whites from the yolks, something I had never done before. This took some practice – and quite a few mistakes – to get right. From there I made a meringue by mixing the eggs with sugar and beating it for much longer than I thought would be necessary. At this stage, the icing had formed stiff peaks and was a bit glossy (and I might have tried some, and it was delicious 😊 

The meringue stage of the swiss buttercream. It was so glossy and pretty looking!

The second stage of making the icing included adding the butter to the icing in small increments so that the meringue could absorb the butter and because a smoother consistency. Unfortunately, I had not allowed the butter to soften enough, and the buttercream had a bit of a grainy texture – although it still tasted incredible! After a lot more beating, the butter broke into smaller pieces, and while it was still not the perfect consistency, it was much closer, and it really did taste amazing!  

The swiss buttercream once it was complete. It looked just like snow!


Some of my random icing attempts using a variety of piping tips.
Some more icing attempts with different piping tips.

The following week, Cassandra and I were not able to meet up, so I decided to start just playing around with different icing techniques. I used a recipe that I found online (Vanilla Buttercream Frosting Recipe –, and it turned out pretty tastyOnce the frosting was made, I started just trying out the different piping tips I had. I had a lot of fun – and made a huge mess! – just piping different designs with the icing.  


Once I had tried a few piping tips, I decided to use food colouring to make different colours. I chose one tip that I really liked and started piping a bunch of flowers on parchment paper.

At first I just used blue and white icing to make little flowers

To make flowers that were multi-coloured, I placed a bit of icing of one colour, and bit of another, into the same piping bag. I was scared at first that the colours would combine to create a murky, brown colour, but it worked out better than I thought! I feel like this was a really fun and helpful way to begin learning some piping techniques! 


The multi-coloured piped flowers
More multi-coloured piped flowers!

How to Have a Beautiful Mind

During these past two weeks, I read and applied two more chapters of “How to Have a Beautiful Mind” into our conversations. This time, the chapters were “How to be interesting” and “How to respond.” 


First of all, “How to be interesting.” In this chapter, de Bono explained several ways to keep conversations interesting: using “what if” statements, suggesting alternate possibilities, speculating, putting new ideas forward, and using the phrase “Well that’s interesting.” A quote that really stood out to me was this: “Being interested and interesting go together” (50). To me, this means that to fully engage in a conversation, you first need to be interested in it. Once you are fully immersed in a conversation, you can then make the conversation really interesting 

During meeting with my mentor, I did the following:  


Found and made connections that link matters together and generate interest 

When I was melting some chocolate in the microwave, I placed all the chocolate into a bowl. Cassandra explained that since the bowl I was using was glass, the chocolate would melt faster than if the bowl was made of another material. We connected this to the fact that glass conducts heat easier. From there, we were able to discuss questions like “how much faster will it melt in a glass bowl rather to a metal one?” This generated more interest in the topic and the conversation as a whole.  


Explored, elaborated, and pulled interest out of the matter 

When making the swiss buttercream, is was, at first, rather grainy. This was odd, and I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong in the recipe. Had I used the wrong amount of one of the ingredientsHad I missed a step? With some conversation, I realized that I had not allowed the butter to soften enough, and this was likely the cause of the bizarre texture. Through exploring the matter, I was able to solve the problem and attempt to fix it.  


Used “what if” statements to get to now lines of thought 

For the buttercream, seven egg whites were required. I asked, “what if I don’t have egg whites,” and Cassandra explained that I would then have to separate the egg whites from the yolks by hand. By using “what if” statements, I was able to learn a new skill and reach a new line of thought.  


This week’s second chapter was “How to respond.” In this chapter, Edward de Bono gives some tips for responding to statements and questions during conversations. He says to always ask for clarification before responding, to ensure that you are not arguing against a different point that the other person was making. You can also support other’s ideas by relating them to a way you act or feel, or to something you have experienced. A few other tips discussed were to avoid “case making” arguments (where you only consider the point of view of one side), providing stories as possibilities but not guarantees, extending ideas, carrying forward ideas by looking at it from all angles, and also modifying any ideas to made then more agreeable to you. A quote to sum up the chapter: “support goes beyond agreement. You can support a point that has been made from statistics, from your own experience, from a shared set of values and so on” (64).  


During my meetings with Cassandra, I did this following:  


Asked for clarification when I was in doubt about something 

When mixing all my ingredients together while baking, I was unsure about the consistency of the icing. Because I was uncertain, I showed her and asked if seemed the right consistency. From her feedback, I was able to reach a more accurate consistency.  


Supported a point my mentor made  

When measuring out ingredients, Cassandra said you can put the cup that has been in the sugar into the flour, but not the other way around. To support this point, I said, “because the flour sticks to the measuring cup,” and she added that this would cause contamination of the ingredients.  


Shared a personal story that illustrates the conversation topic 

When talking about different ways to package and freeze cakes, Cassandra said “My method, so that I don’t have to bake ten thousand cakes in a day, is I wrap them in a special way when they come out of the oven, and then I freeze them, so that the moisture stays inside.” By sharing a story to illustrate the situation, I could see how this could be applied to real life situations. Then, I was able to add that this strategy would be very helpful for this project because I am then able to work on cakes over a span of a few weeks. This is especially helpful for when I am just starting to learn the skills and techniques. 


Modified an idea to make it more acceptable, stronger, or practical 

When cracking eggs for the buttercream, Cassandra told me to always crack them into a separate bowl first so that if I accidentally get some yolk into the egg whites, it will only be one egg wasted, not all of them. Instead of cracking it into a clean bowl, I modified the idea and asked if it was alright if I instead cracked it into a measuring cup that I had already used. Because the measuring cups had been used to measure the sugar, and was about to combine the eggs with the sugar anyways, cracking eggs into the measuring cup instead was a good way of not dirtying an extra bowl.  


I am really looking forward to spending even more time working on different cake decorating techniques and learning even more from my amazing mentor! As always, thank you for reading my post, and please leave a comment if you have any questions!  

In-Depth 2021: Post 2

Progress report

This year my In-Depth is cake decorating, and I have an amazing mentor, Cassandra! So far, we have had three meetings. The first meeting, Cassandra and I discussed a general overview for the project, as well as just talking to get to know one another. During our next meeting, we dove right into baking pound cakes, which I froze after the first meeting so that I could ice them the following week. While I baked, Cassandra gave me tips, instructions, and feedback. I learned a lot of new facts about baking that I did not know before. As an example, when I was cracking the eggs for the cake, Cassandra explained that they should be cracked on a flat surface, not the edge of a bowl. This is because when the eggshell hits a thin surface, like the rim of a mixing bowl, the shell will break into the yolk. On the other hand, when it cracks on a flat surface, like a counter, the shell will not crack inwards, and there is a smaller chance of getting shell in the egg. 

My cakes before baking


One of my cakes after baking


During our third meeting, I made the ganache that is used to fill the pound cakes. As well, since making the ganache did not take too long, I started preparing the decoration for the cake: hot chocolate balls! I did this by melting white chocolate and brushing a thin layer of it on the chocolate molds. The molds were then frozen, and later I applied a second coat of chocolate to the molds. During our next meeting, we will assemble and decorate my first cake!  

The white chocolate in molds for the hot chocolate bombs


“How to Have A Beautiful Mind” 

Throughout this project, we are reading “How to Have A Beautiful Mind” by Edward de Bono. This book discusses ways to become a more interesting person by having more interesting conversations with others. The first three chapters of “How to Have A Beautiful Mind” cover agreeing, disagreeing, and differing.  



When meeting online with Cassandra, I found it all too easy to agree with everything she said. Cassandra obviously knows way more about baking and cake decorating than I do, so I had to work to not over agree. “How to Have A Beautiful Mind” explains that when you agree at all times, you will rarely learn new ways of thinking. Edward de Bono writes, “when you lose an argument you may as well have gained a new point of view,” and that quote really stuck with me during my conversations with Cassandra.  

A good example of when I applied the concepts in the first chapter was during our first meeting. I had a vague plan for the project (which I addressed in my last post), and Cassandra also had a few ideas. She suggested that she could teach me the steps for decorating a cake in stages, with one new step each week. For example, the first week we would make the cake, the next we would ice it, the following week we could decorate it, etc. I thought that this was a really great way to slowly introduce the skills in a memorable fashion, so I told Cassandra that I fully agreed with her idea. Once we had agreed on that broad plan, we could focus a bit more on the specific details of the project. Because I was able to see the value of her ideas, we created a plan that I am really excited about! So, while the final timeline we created was not what I had originally expected, by agreeing with Cassandra I gained a new point of view, and I believe that I will learn so much more because of our agreement 



The next chapter discusses how to disagreeThis chapter gives necessary advice such as not disagreeing just for the sake of disagreeing, as well as always giving a reason behind your different views.  

Luckily, Cassandra and I have not had much to disagree on so far; however, there were lots of times when I applied the concepts from this chapter in our conversations. One of the key points when disagreeing is politeness. If you are rude, others are less likely to attempt to understand your opinion, and having a conversation becomes extremely difficult. At the start of this project, I asked Cassandra to complete a criminal record check for the school. When the deadline started approaching, I considered how to best address the topic in a way that would not seem too harsh. In the end, I made sure to be polite and explained why getting the crim check done was important. Because I was able to apply the concepts from this chapter during this discussion, Cassandra was able to understand why this was important to me. As well, I was able to consider her side. I knew that Cassandra is super busy, and her taking the time to mentor me is extremely generous. She agreed to go complete the crim check in a few days’ time, which was a compromise since she was able to work around her schedule, while also completing the important task for the project.  



Finally, the third chapter is about how to differThe main point I took away from this chapter is that different points of view and life situations will create varying opinions, and often the best way to handle a situation is to try to find a middle ground.  

One of the first conversations Cassandra and I had was about scheduling our weekly meetings. I have a fairly busy schedule because of the amount of extracurriculars I take outside of school, so finding a day and time that worked for both of us was a challenge. While Cassandra had more available time near the start of the week, Mondays and Tuesdays are two of my busiest days. To find a middle ground, we applied one of the concepts from this chapter, which was to clearly state what each differing opinion was. Once we both understood what the other was thinking, we were able to compromise on Wednesday, since it is still fairly near the start of the week, and I was able to find a time that did not interfere with my extracurricular activities.  


In-Depth 2021 is starting out really well, and I am super excited for the rest of the project! As always, thank you for reading my blog post, and if you have any questions, please put them in the comments below 🙂 


In-Depth 2021: Post 1

Hello! My name is Emma, and this is my first blog post for In-depth 2021!  

What is In-Depth?

In-depth is a TALONS project spread over several months, where we, the students, choose a skill we wish to learn more about. We then find a mentor in the community who is an expert in the field we plan to study who guides our learning throughout In-Depth.  

What skill will I be learning this year?

This year, I have chosen cake decorating as my skill. Over the next few months, I will learn different cake decorating techniques, using a variety of materials such as different types of icing and fondant. My goal is to learn at least ten different techniques during In-Depth 2021. By the end of my project, I hope to be able to combine all the techniques I will have learned to create one large cake design. With the help of my mentor, I will design my final cake, and this final piece will showcase all of my learning. Therefore, not only will I learn how to recreate each technique when working with different baked goods, I will also spend time learning how to make a design aesthetic and interesting to look at. Using a combination of these skills, I will create a final cake that is thought-provoking and aesthetic   

Currently, I know very little about cake decorating. I will still need to buy the supplies required for this year’s In-Depth, such as piping bags and piping tips, as well as the ingredients required to make the cakes and designs.  

Who will help me out during In-Depth?

My mentor this year is Cassandra, the owner and artist at Cassandra Cake Co. I am so thankful that she has volunteered her time to help me learn this incredible form of art for this year’s In-Depth 

Of course, I would welcome any and all advice, feedback, or helpful comments that anyone has that could help me during this journey! Please feel free to comment any thoughts you have at the bottom of this post!  

How will I be learning my skill throughout these next few months?

My goal is to learn at least ten (!) different cake decorating techniques for this year’s project. As well, I wish to learn how to design simple and more complex designs that I can then create. This will require a lot of time spent practicing the techniques, as well as time to learn these skills. I have created a rough timeline of when I will learn each skill, accompanied by a series of recourses to use throughout this journey.  

My mentor Cassandra and I will have weekly meetings to learn these skills. Between meetings I will practice all the skills I have learned to ensure that I can execute each technique as perfectly as possible. Creating both simple and complex designs, I will gradually gain more and more knowledge that will eventually help me create my final cake design. 

Here are a few recourses showing some cake decorating techniques:  

Where will I be learning?

Due to COVID-19, Cassandra and I are unable to meeting in person; therefore, we will be meeting weekly over video calls. I am lucky to have a moderately large kitchen where I will be able to make and decorate baked goods.  

When will I be learning all this?

In-Depth 2021 ranges from now (January) until late May, and I will be meeting weekly with my mentor, Cassandra. For the first week, I will focus on getting to know Cassandra so that we may work well together, and I will feel comfortable asking questions and learning as much as possible. For the next few weeks, I will focus on learning the various cake decorating techniques. Every couple weeks I will take time to review the skills I learned in previous meetings with Cassandra. In April and May, I will begin learning how to design the cakes, as well as how to combine multiple techniques into one design to prepare for my final cake 


Why did I choose to learn cake decorating?

Cake decorating is such an awe-inspiring form of art. That people can create beautiful and thought-provoking masterpieces using only edible materials is truly incredible. I’ve often wondered if I could ever create pieces of art that intriguing, and now is my chance to try. And, just like any other form of art, I believe that beautifully decorated cakes can bring a sense of joy to anyone.  

And we all need a bit of joy in these challenging times.  

Thank you again to Cassandra for helping me throughout these next few months! I am super excited for In-Depth 2021!  

Night of the Notables – Helen Keller Learning Centre!

*This post is written in 1st person, as if written from the perspective of Helen Keller* 

When I was only 19 months old, I contracted a sickness that resulted in the loss of my sight and hearing. For a few years, I was unable to communicate with others; however, when I was six years old, Anne Sullivan became my mentor, and she taught me how to read finger-spelled words. From there, I was able to learn many different forms of communication 

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow” 

– Helen Keller

When I was 20 years old, I received the opportunity to attended Radcliffe college, and in 1904, I became the first Deafblind person ever to graduate college.  

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision” 

– Helen Keller

In my later years, I wrote several books and advocated for the rights of Deaf and blind individuals, as well as equality for women. I co-founded the ACLU, or the American Civil Liberties Union.  

“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me” 

– Helen Keller

Click on the photo to enlarge it

If you would like, please join me in a Teams video call to play a Kahoot! 

The Teams call link: Click here to join the meeting (

If you do not have the Teams app, you can still play! Just click the link on your laptop and use the browser version!

If you have never played a Kahoot before, a Kahoot is a fun way of testing your knowledge using online quizzes. All you have to do is:  

  1. Google “” on any device (Phone, laptop, etc.)  

  2. Join the Teams call 

  3. Enter the game pin that is displayed on the Teams call’s scream into the “” website.  

  4. Play the game!  

*A new Kahoot game will start every 5 minutes. However, you can also join in the middle of a game if you wish! 


Please leave any questions you have in the comments and I will respond to them within a few minutes! 


Thank you!

Developing the Leaders Around You

Session one 


“To add growth, lead followers… to multiply, lead leaders.”  

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership 

What does it mean?

This law states that if a leader wants to grow a little bit, they should lead people who will follow them; however, if a leader wants to grow a lot – or multiply their growth – they should lead people who are leaders. One way to think about this principle is that people can’t develop on their own. By leading followers, a leader will only be able to grow a limited amount. On the other hand, if a leader leads other leaders, that person will be able to learn from the people that they are leading, and their growth will multiply.  

Why did I choose this principle?  

I chose this principle because very often I feel that when I am leading, I forget that the goal is not to lead people who will just follow, but to lead people who will also lead. This principle can certainly help me in the future, whether it is in TALONS or later in my learning career 

How am I going to apply this principle to future leadership activities?  

I am going to use this principle while planning cultural events, leadership events and adventure trips in the future. Since we plan all of these occasions alongside the grade nines, the other grade tens and I will help mentor the TALONS in the grade below us. I will remember this concept during the planning processes and make sure that the grade nines are using the skills they will learn to develop into leaders. Because, if I can start leading leaders, I can start learning from those leaders. When the grade nines further developing their leadership styles, I will be able to discover different ways to approach situations and challenges.  

Session two 


The two characteristics of leaders:  

1. They are going somewhere.  

2. They are able to persuade others to go with them.  

What does it mean?

These two characteristics of leaders help define what makes a person a leader. The first characteristic, “they are going somewhere,” indicates that a leader needs to have a vision. A leader needs to know where they are headed, so that they can effectively lead others who will hopefully help the leader go where they want to go. The second characteristic, “they are able to persuade others to go with them,” indicates that a leader needs to be able to convince the people they lead to help them reach their destination. If a leader is able to persuade others to go with them, their journey will be a lot easier and more successful.  

Why did I choose this principle?  

I chose this principle because I felt that it is a great way to view leading. The first characteristic gives a leader a reason to lead. If you have no destination in mind, there is no reason for you lead others. The second characteristic gives a leader a goal to strive for. The leader not only has to have a destination in mind, they have to be able to convince others of that same objective. I think that these two characteristics delve deep into the why of leadership when analyzed closely.  

How am I going to apply this principle to future leadership activities?  

I am going to use this principle to help me in future leadership activities by considering these two characteristics while leading. I will ask myself, “am I going somewhere? Do I have a vision of where this is taking me?” If the answer is no, I will reconsider my goals for the project. Once the answer to these questions is yes, I will ask myself, “am I persuading others to come with me while reaching my vision?” If the answer is no, I need to find a way to get others on track with my idea and goal. I can do this by asking for feedback and input on where I picture our project or event going.  

Session three 


I model.  

What does it mean?

This concept can be paraphrased by saying that people do what people see, so a leader should do what they want the people they lead to do. John C. Maxwell says that there are two types of leaders, the “travel agents” and the “tour guides.” A leader that does not model is a travel agent, sending the people they lead to places they’ve never been to. A leader that models is a tour guide, taking the people they lead to places the leader has been to many times. Norman Vincent Peale said, “nothing is more confusing that people who give good advice and set bad examples.” The people being discussed in this quote would be travel agent leaders, as they do not model.  

Why did I choose this principle?  

I chose this concept because as a leader, you cannot gain credibility by being a travel agent leader. A respected leader will model how they expect the people they lead to behave. As a grade ten in TALONS, I want to be a good model for the grade nines, so that next year they can become good leaders for the new grade nines.  

How am I going to apply this principle to future leadership activities?  

I am going to apply this concept to future leadership activities by making sure that I model good behaviour for the grade nines. I will be as organized as possible; I will work efficiently; I will help others when they need it. By modeling this behaviour, I will hopefully become a more credible and respected leader. For example, when working on a leadership event, I will make sure that every aspect of the project is being organized as best as possible, and I will work efficiently so that I have time to help others who are a bit behind or are confused.  

Session four 


Pools of people at each level of growth.  

Page 126 – John C. Maxwell’s Developing The Leaders Around You

What does it mean?

The pools of growth indicate the amount a leader has grown. The first level is the largest, meaning that most people are situated in the level with “some growth.” The second pool is a little bit smaller than the first one, which means that there are still many people who fall in the category of having “growth that makes them capable in their job,” although there are less people in this pool than in level one. Every level increases in growth and decreases in the amount of people. When applying these pools of growth to developing leaders around you, the first two levels will probably provide producers, not reproducers. At level three, the producers become reproducers. Levels four, five and six are when reproducers become critical members of an organization 

Why did I choose this principle?  

I chose this concept because these pools of growth are a good way to measure my growth during a certain period of time. In my school career, I hope to grow as much as possible, and I can use these pools to measure my growth. It is also a reminder that I want to reach level six. Returning to the previous concept in session twothe two characteristics of leaders, I am going to level six, and I will keep this vision in mind while persuading others to come with me to this sixth pool of growth.  

How am I going to apply this principle to future leadership activities?  

I am going to use the pools of growth to measure my growth after certain activities in leadership. For example, after planning my leadership event, I will think about what pool I was in before the event, and I will consider if I changed pools. I will keep the goal of reaching level six in mind while planning events and learning in leadership classes.


In-depth night!

Welcome to Emma’s In-depth night blog post!

Hello! My name is Emma, and I chose to learn American Sign Language for my In-depth this year. I feel that communication is a large part of my day-to-day life. I found it so incredible that people who cannot speak have such an amazing way to communicate, and I knew I had to take this opportunity to learn ASL! 

I have spent the last few months learning ASL with my mentor Sandra. The following video shows a few of the signs I have learned and outlines some very basic ASL grammar used when asking questions:  

Emma’s ASL In-depth video   


When watching the “How to sign questions section of the video, you might notice that for certain questions my eyebrows are raised, and for others, my eyebrows are lowered. This is very important for asking questions in ASL. When you are signing yes or no questions, you should raise your eyebrows, and when signing wh- questions (who, what, where, when, why), you should lower your eyebrows. These facial expressions clarify what type of question you are asking.  


If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment on this post and I will respond as quickly as possible!


Thank you, Sandra, for teaching me ASL over the last five months! You taught me so much, even though half the time we couldn’t meet in person due to the pandemic. I could never have learned this much without you! 

And thank you for visiting my blog for In-depth night!