Empowering your students to take the lead and develop strong leadership skills is one of the best gifts you can give them. It sets them up for success in the future, even if they’re not aware of it now. However, cultivating leadership practices within your classroom can be a challenging task unless you know how and where to begin.
You never know what’ll connect with students because no two learners are the same. Offering a broad range of ways to practice being a leader in a safe space will ensure you reach every individual. Not all students strive to be leaders, but each can learn leadership attributes from watching the successes and failures of others — even yours.
As the daily reigning example of leadership in your student’s lives, it is important for you to display what a leader can and should look like. As a result, the strongest attribute you can share with your students is to be self-aware. Practicing good communication, empathy, and consistent support are all beneficial for your students.
As you complete tasks throughout your day, try to slow down and do a self-assessment here and there. Are you practicing good listening skills? Did you give everyone a chance to speak? Did you follow through on the commitments you made to your students?
To offer your students a proper representation of leadership styles and traits, consider furthering your own education on the topic. Development in leadership training continues to evolve, and there are new ways to integrate leadership skills into your classroom. Not only will it be beneficial to you and your classroom, but you can also share what you have learned with your colleagues for them to pass along.
Instilling emotional intelligence practices into your curriculum aids in building a foundation for the future of an emotionally stable adult. Great leaders can read body language and pick up on subtle verbal clues, such as changes in inflection and tone.
Children and young adults are very tuned in to mood changes in adults. Keep this in mind when you have a bad week. It’s easy succumbing to the stresses of working in education, which can lead to moments of irritability or short-sightedness. Remember, those moments are when students will remember your personality more often. How you respond to those challenging times will offer key insights, and inspiration, for your students.
Great leaders remain calm during adversity. They’re also in tune with their feelings and know how to properly navigate them during times of stress and opposition.
Being a great leader is not just an emotionally driven role; it also requires a set of tangible skills that make you valuable to a team.
Encouraging students to further their education using technology is a valuable skill, particularly since our future will continue to evolve to be more technologically advanced. K-12 classrooms themselves have begun to see increased use of smartboards, iPads, and online interactive learning platforms. Understanding coding languages and advanced technology, like learning to work successfully with remote teams, will help students become competitive in today’s workforce.
Some students may not realize that expanding their knowledge of graphic design or software development is grooming them to become a leader in their field, so it’s important to contextualize these skills in real-world engagements. Exhibiting proficiency in the type of technology you are using in a group will quickly exemplifies you as a leadership. Try your best to teach leadership skills in this manner.
When encouraging your students to take on leadership roles, it’s important to create safe and inspiring environments to do so. Having a variety of places to collaborate with others can benefit learners. Different table and chair heights appeal to different mindsets and activities. The more adaptive you can be, the better the result you will see from your students.
For example, some students may need space to move while they establish their role as a leader in their group. For the artists and right-brains in the classroom, establish a place rich in color and fluidity for them to feel more comfortable and in their element.
There are a variety of ways to implement leadership skills practice in your classroom. Some can be as simple and direct as playing “Simon Says” or doing team activities.
However, you can be as creative as you need to learn about your students and give them tools for development. Implement activities such as:
As you watch your students work together to develop their leadership skills, refrain from jumping in too often. Give them time and space to figure out problems using their own critical thinking skills.
Applying for college or trade school is stressful and challenging. Completing high school, applying for schools, possibly maintaining an after-school job, and navigating their social life is a lot to handle.
Encouraging students to apply for grants and scholarships may feel like additional work, especially if they feel they aren’t eligible. Giving your time and effort to guide them along the process will have positive long-term effects. If they don’t, for some reason, qualify for any grants or scholarships, this is also the perfect opportunity to discuss student loans and the tools they have at their disposal to properly prepare for, and eventually pay off, those loans by understanding how to manage their money,
Further, on most grant and scholarship applications, it is common to see an essay question in relation to their efforts in a leadership role. Be sure to offer your students ample opportunities outside of the classroom to give them vital experiences to write about. Gaining further experience in leadership skills will set them above the rest of the applicant pool.
If you feel that integrating leadership practices into your curriculum is a waste of valuable classroom time, remember the end game for your students. Leadership skills are valuable for more than time in the classroom. They carry on with your students into adulthood and contribute to their continued success in life.
Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.