My students had many different opportunities to develop their leadership throughout the day. They took part in managing the classroom – they were responsible for formulating the rules and the consequences of their actions in our classroom. Some of them “applied” for the “job” of tracking if anyone is breaking the rules. Others chose to be responsible for helping their classmates with their homework and tasks.
My students were well aware of the goals we had for the school year and regularly suggested activities which could develop the skills we wanted them to internalize. For example, they were very enthusiastic about organizing a Christmas Charity Market in the school. The Charity Market was my suggestion but they had to argue why it was important for them to take part in it and what competences they would develop in this activity (for example self-dependence, organizational skills, verbal communication skills, entrepreneurship skills, leadership skills, math competence, sense of initiative, etc.). Then, after we closed the market, the children made suggestions about spending the money, defended their ideas and voted for the best suggestion.
Their enthusiasm drew the attention and the support of their parents and the other teachers and children in the school. As a result, about 200 children from the age of 5 to 10 took part in the Christmas Charity Market. Last but not least, their parents become more engaged with the classroom activities and the learning process.
The Christmas Charity Market was so successful that the school community organized another one this year even though I don’t work in there anymore.
What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?
I had two very important roles in supporting my students’ leaderships: in planning our school year goals based on their needs and assuring on-going support to my students. On one hand, I introduced the goals to the children and asked them if they find them meaningful and (in case they did) why they thought these goals were important. Furthermore, I asked them how a specific skill or knowledge could help them in the future. As a result of the discussion my students realized that what we did in the classroom was really important and good for them. On the other hand, I was constantly reminding my students that everything that happened in our classroom (good or bad) depended on them and their choices. I regularly encouraged them that they could handle the challenges they faced and they could be successful. Last but not least, I delegated most of the responsibilities in the classroom to them, thus empowering them to be the owners of their learning.
What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?
We learned together that most of the thing that happen to us depend on our joint efforts and mindset; that usually hard work brings a result after all; that if you like what you do and believe in it sooner or later you will reach your goals. But may be the most important lesson was that in order to be in harmony and peace with yourself you should first learn to enjoy the road to your goals and not be obsessed with the results you are looking for.