Techniques Magazine Techniques Magazine May 2011 : Page 29

plify Students conducting a JROTC leadership Training Exercise.m PhOTO COURTESY OF ThE U.S. NAVY cism, to progress to the point of fluency. Students come to school from many directions. Their paths are often full of barriers to realizing their full potential. Sometimes they have been taught through poor examples exactly the opposite of the basic individual traits essential for good leadership. On the other hand, some arrive with highly developed ideals and at least moderate confidence levels. The question for instructional leaders is how to take each student from where he or she is to the next step—or better—to fluency (effective leadership) regardless of the starting point. What Teachers Can Do to Foster Leadership Leadership-enlightened teachers can help to develop leaders through classroom mentorship. They can delegate many classroom functions to include assigning group leaders and spokespersons, escorts and assistants. Public praise for a job well done and special recognition exemplifies the first rule of psychology—you get more of what you reinforce. Project-based learning and journaling for reflection can bring out students’ lead -ership qualities and provide new opportu-nities to lead. However, since their main purpose is to help students academically, the focus of classroom teachers must be to help students learn the subject matter. To do that well, teachers need to find out what their students already know, because new information is best assimilated by relating it to existing knowledge and expe-rience. If that experience is limited, teach-ers must create scenarios or relate stories to create the foundational understanding. Likewise, to help students develop lead-ership qualities, teachers need to know who those students are and where they are at. Often, the limited interaction in academic classes does not allow teachers to find out as much as they would like to about their students, and what teachers do see is what is presented and not always what is actually inside. The Role of administrators in Student Leadership Development In order to ensure students not only learn content, but also develop chara-cter, school leaders need to provide a program of instruction that includes leadership education. The leadership program needs to include assessments and opportunities to get to know students and for students to learn about leadership and themselves. To the extent privacy laws allow, that information needs to be shared with all teachers and administra-tors so that the entire school becomes an establishment for not only learning con-tent, but also for developing character. Instructional leaders must foster a cli-mate of collegiality to ensure all adminis-trators and faculty members are working together to achieve the best outcome for each student. They need to guarantee students are able to take leadership classes by structuring those classes as required electives, or allowing them to substitute for requisite credits for graduation ( e.g ., physical education, health, civics, practi-cal arts, personal finance, or some other non-core course in which standards are met through the leadership program). It is disheartening that every student does not have the opportunity to par-ticipate in a program because increased requirements for graduation have not left room for leadership in their schedules. Especially sad is the fact that students who have to be in remedial classes at the expense of good leadership programs may be missing just the spark and support they need to achieve. The bottom line is that state and school administrators need to work to remove barriers so that all students can participate in leadership programs. Successful Programs and How They Develop Leaders Successful school leadership programs must be structured for students to learn Ma Y 2011 Techniques 29

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