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Building leadership in the classroom

Building leadership in the classroom

“Don’t do for the learners, that which they can do for themselves.” If we keep that in mind, we can begin creating and building leadership within the classroom. 

If we do it right, the hardest part of our job should be planning because the classroom should run itself. Every school should have at least one class, if not more, that brings to the forefront each student’s leadership ability and helps to improve and develop it.

When I started my teaching career, thinking deeply about subjects was a pivotal part of learning. I always wanted my learners to think about what is being taught. Today the way a educator encourages a learner to think about the process has changed a lot. Educators no longer tell learners what to think. Instead, they teach them how to think. We use varied teaching techniques to build the leadership skills of learners in the classroom. At every step, learners are encouraged to become independent thinkers who understand how to work as part of teams and have positive effects on organizations and communities. I see learners all around me take active role in their education by taking ownership of learning and thereby developing positive skills in the process. Every educator strives hard to create a culture of ownership, collaboration and community in the classroom.  The best way to spark learners’ belief in themselves is giving them the opportunity to do projects of worth. When a learner can be successful in smaller projects and see impacts, they’ll proceed to larger projects of their own. Teamwork is an essential part of real-world success. Therefore, it should be part of a real-world classroom environment.

What I have found out over the years is that Project based learning is the most effective way to foster leadership qualities in learners. This is an amazing way to place responsibility, ownership, and accountability into the hands of the learners.  However, it is essential that all procedures are well established before proceeding to build leadership in the classroom.  Project-Based Learning activities should be meaningful to the students and the community so classes can see the true effects of their hard work. Learners learn through hands-on work on a project that addresses a complex question or challenge over a period of time. An educator can assign one leader to each group for the duration of that project, making sure to change leaders for each new project or assign a different leader for each element of it. When educators encourage learners to work on team projects, they learn how to confront their ideas and resolve conflicts. In essence, they learn to collaborate and communicate. In leadership, emotional intelligence is extremely important. All schools implement SEL effectively in the classroom thereby making learners self-aware, they are able to recognize and control their own emotions and how their actions affect the people around them. They make a commitment to admit their mistakes and face the consequences. Every educator strives to have self-motivated learners in the classroom and uses varied teaching strategies to reinforce this consistently. Most of it comes down to listening to learners and helping them communicate and shine in ways that feels comfortable to them. It’s also incredibly important to consider different personality types when encouraging learners’ leadership. Differences and insecurities shouldn’t keep learners from emerging as leaders in the classroom when inclusivity is encouraged. Cultivating a passion in learners is a great way to bring out their innate leadership qualities.

Giving learners ownership of their education and true responsibility helps build accountable, confident individuals. Other than presenting a new concept, just about every detail of a class can be handed to the learners. As educators, we all have different kinds of learners in the class. There are some who can’t sit still, some who love to talk out of turn, or say something funny so everyone laughs.  How can we develop the leadership skills of these learners? It can be done basically by studying their behaviour which is telling us give them something to do.  Give these learners specific responsibilities that hone in on their natural talents.  These students are begging for purpose, and they can either help our class run smoothly or be the obstacle in instruction. Create specific roles for these learners based on their needs.  For example, for a learner who always comes late give them the responsibility of attendance.  For your learner who can’t sit still , utilize them for passing out or collecting paperwork, writing on the board, gathering materials, or checking off assignments.  If they can’t sit still, then keep them out of their seats with tasks that will help the class run smoothly.  Elect a “tech expert,” who can be a learner who gets to class on time and helps by setting up any technical elements for the class.

The hardest job for an educator is to plan effectively, whereby when one is in the classroom, the educator should be able to step back from the educator’s role and be the facilitator of learning, someone who facilitates creativity and inspires curiosity, and builds student leadership. Educators work hard to motivate learners to lead in their classrooms. How that looks can vary by class type and age, but the end goal is inspiring confident individuals ready to take on challenges using real-world skills. Good, effective leadership is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and improved upon. And while we tend to notice the more obvious charismatic leaders with the loud and bold personalities, the fact is that anybody, even the quiet kid in the back who hardly speaks a word in class, can be a leader. Everyone will be called upon to lead in some capacity. With this in mind, it is crucial that we provide what training we can to prepare our learners for leadership roles — to prepare them to be good, effective leaders that will take others in a positive direction. Our world needs good, effective leaders. And with a bit of training and encouragement, our learners have the potential to meet — and even surpass — that need.