24 August 2013

Seeing The Leader in Me in Action

Last week I was invited to visit with two elementary schools in our district.  Anytime I have the opportunity to visit a school, I think my job is the best.  What was unique about this particular visit was the focus on seeing how "The Leader in Me" schools operate. 

We visited classrooms where students greeted us by standing, holding their arms out wide and announcing "Welcome to Ms. _____'s class.  We are the class of 2024."  What an incredible way to start from their earliest years believing and acting on the fact that all students will graduate from high school.

As a former high school teacher, I can imagine the students I taught over the years who could have benefited from instilling in their heads the idea that they would indeed graduate. Helping them believe and act upon this important fact throughout their K-12 schooling, instead of focusing on trying to survive the last four years of high school would have been a much more positive approach for those who struggled.

We saw The Leader in Me curriculum being taught in several different ways.  In one classroom, the students were echo reading from The Leader in Me student booklets for second grade.  The lesson on the day we visited was about Habit 1--Be Proactive.  Students echo read with the teacher and talked with their partner about their circles of control.  Seeing these young students discuss what they could and could not control in their lives was impressive because it's easy to see how learning the 7 habits can benefit them throughout their entire lives.

As a mom I am always using similar language with my sons when we discuss appropriate attitudes and behavior.  Even though my ten year old's elementary school is not a Leader in Me school, I was impressed when he brought home a note from his teacher to him and she commented on his leadership abilities.  He was so proud of that simple handwritten note--he displayed it in a card stand.  Imagine how much more powerful his leadership abilities might be if his school also utilized The Leader in Me curriculum.

In another classroom, we saw The Leader in Me curriculum embedded within literacy instruction to ensure students were still mastering the Common Core Standards as required in our state. 

In addition to visiting classrooms, we had an opportunity to talk with parents of students in the two schools.  They shared with us their satisfaction with the program, and they talked to us about how they use the same language the students are learning about leadership at school at home as part of the schools' family involvement approach.  It's always great to hear from fellow parents who are not working in schools themselves because sometimes I feel my perspective might be skewed because I work in education.

By far my favorite part of the day was the panel discussion with students.  They shared their leadership notebooks and talked with us about personal and academic goal setting, and they told us what they liked about The Leader in Me.  They also responded very articulately to a series of questions from all the adults in the room.  Their confidence and poise was amazing!  The students see the benefit of what they are learning and the way The Leader in Me is transforming their school and the way adults in their schools interact with them.  A fourth grader shared--"Kids have a lot to offer and until The Leader in Me, people never really cared to ask us."

 Cheers to my two sons on their first day of school 2013-2014 with great hopes that their leardership skills continue to shine.

 Lexington Kentucky USA

First day of 5th grade

First day of 7th grade