Are you listening to your students when they have ideas for improvements or helping others? Do you turn these into opportunities for developing their leadership skills?

What has really caught my attention over time is seeing individual students that have shown leadership WITHOUT adults giving them the ideas.

This has taught me to keep my eyes and ears open to these opportunities to develop and recognize leadership in our students. Remember, true leadership is really about finding solutions to problems that are out there and putting yourself in a position to help.

We have ‘student leaders’ everywhere in our school, you just have to look! They may or not be students that you would expect to lead.

One student leader observed the lack of dividers between urinals in the boys’ room, so he wrote me a letter, created a presentation, and recently made a proposal to the school advisory council!

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Another student leader created a schoolwide program to fight cancer. He was inspired by a friend that passed, so he approached me last year to raise funds by selling bracelets and hats for @trevorstreasure as well as collecting pajamas for children with cancer. Why pajamas? Because “that’s what kids in the hospital want to wear to be comfortable.” He presented his idea to the school’s advisory council, PTO, and even later shared with the School Board on live television!

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Students are now emailing me their ideas! This student leader is currently planning a way to build stands outside to post different activities for students during recess when they get bored.

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This student leader grew out his hair to donate to Locks of Love. Totally his idea! We barely even knew he was doing it until one day his hair was gone!

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Don’t overlook simple gestures of leadership, such as one student leader helping to tie another student’s shoes.

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Or this student leader that simply wanted to help Brandon Carter @Real4aReasonDC at the crosswalk during arrival.

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I’m hoping to release the power of leadership in our students one at a time. I see these efforts of leadership every day and one of them will change the world!

It’s worth the extra effort to teach them to be leaders:

  • Remind them how to write a letter or email with their idea and approach an authority figure.
  • Teach them to create a presentation using video, a speech, or PowerPoint.
  • Practice presenting their ideas to others in the from of a proposal.
  • Give them a venue or group to speak in front of such as your PTO, advisory council, the class, administrators, a group of teachers, or even a small group of students.
  • Make sure to help them feel amazing and implement their ideas in some way.
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Education is not just about making students smarter or more knowledgeable. We are also here to help them become better people. Sometimes we do this one child at a time.

I’m going to make sure I am available for students to listen to their ideas. I’m going to give them a platform to lead and learn from the process. I’m going to recognize and praise their efforts. I’m going to keep my eyes open to see my students leading. Are you?