I have taken Wood Badge 4 times, the last 3 times on staff (there are alot of scouters who have staffed far more often) being on staff isn't much different than being a participant, you go to all the same classes and you write a new ticket every course. I was also a contributing writer to Wood Badge for the 21st Century.
(You get a fourth bead when you are a course director. I've had the opportunity but it always came at an inopportune time. However I like your idea of getting them the second time around)
I would also recommend reading Kenneth Blanchard's books to enhance your leadership skills. I would add my two favorites "Leadership and the One Minute Manager and for commissioners "The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey". These are excellent reads at about 130 pages each, every page a gem!
As far as my experiences at WB they are very different from yours. As an example, you said "You the SM consult with the SPL on what you would like to do in your Troop". One of the most important things I learned in Wood Badge is it's not my Troop. It is the troop I serve, the troop belongs to the charter organization. The troop does not do what I want, the troop does the activities the boys want. They know the type and purpose of the activties they need to plan because we trained together.
The next most important thing I learned in Wood Badge is that as the Scoutmaster I have two primary responsibilities. 1)To train the junior leaders. 2)To know the needs and characteristics of everyone in the troop. I also learned that the better I do the first one, the more time I have to do the second one.
We also see the the management flow of the troop differently. Wood Badge taught me this... The patrols know, from the annual plan they made, what the theme of next months program will be. During patrol meetings they get information from their members on what they want to do that month as far as meeting activities, outdoor activities, service projects and troop meeting activities such as ceremonies, games and skill instructions.
The Patrol Leader brings those ideas to the monthly Patrol Leaders Council meeting which is chaired by the Senior Patrol Leader. There they pool their ideas, make a written plan and communicate it back to the patrol members.
Prior to the troop meetings the Senior Patrol Leader or his assistants contact the Patrol Leaders to make sure they are ready to do their chosen tasks. The Senior Patrol Leader MCs the troop meeting to keep things on schedule.
As the Scoutmaster my job is to teach the junior leaders the skills of leadership needed to run their meetings and motivate their groups to work together. At troop meetings I meet with the Senior Patrol Leader a few minutes before the meeting to make sure he has his plan. I meet with him after the meeting to help him evaluate the meeting to make the next one as good or better, and we do a quick review of next weeks meeting. I also give the Scoutmasters Minute at the end of the troop meeting.
What am I doing with all that free time? I am watching. I look at each scout and how they are doing. Are they using good leadership skills, good scout skills, are they fitting in, are they following the scout law, are they prepared? I make notes that I use when I train, when I do a SM conference, when I need to counsel a parent or talk to the committee chair.
Thats what I learned at Wood Badge along with some outdoor skills 22 years ago. You will see when you look at todays SM Handbook, SM Leader Specific Training, Wood Badge, Patrol Leaders handbook or Senior Patrol Leaders handbook that nothing has changed. That is still the method taught by the BSA.
I hope this helps,
Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)