New Year and New Goals

This week in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh the students conducted a discussion and an activity about leadership. First, we had a discussion about what it means to be a leader. We always try to have this discussion every few weeks at the beginning of our sessions to see how students’ perception of leadership has changed throughout their time in Leaders UNITE. And especially with this younger age group who had not heard much about leadership before this club, it is also very interesting to see what they have learned about what it means to be a leader. The students all gave very sophisticated responses highlighting not just the importance of “leading” but also the importance of being a team player and helping others. Students said that a leader helps their friends and peers when they are going through a difficult time, stands up for others if someone is being mean to them, checks on others if they seem lonely or upset, helps others if they are struggling with an assignment, listens to others, respects their teachers, and volunteers to assist the teacher at school. I was very impressed by the students’ understanding of the importance of listening and helping others, and their responses had definitely become even more complex than they were a few weeks ago.

Following this, the students and I talked about the importance of setting goals as a leader, and working towards specific goals as a leader and within a team. To show students how this works, we all made and decorated cards of New Years resolutions. Each student thought of one goal/resolution that they wanted to accomplish for the upcoming year, and we wrote them down on a piece of paper for them to keep. I told the students to hold on to their individual resolutions throughout the year and continue to use them to remain motivated and remind them of their goals.

Acting, teamwork, and sportsmanship in Leaders UNITE

Yesterday in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, students played a game where they had the opportunity to work on communication, teamwork, and adapting to different leaders/situations. We played a game similar to charades- where I acted out different words and students had to guess which word I was acting out. I split the students into two teams randomly, giving them the opportunity to work with new students that they might not see during their class time. I then made one person from each team the “leader”— where this person’s job was raise their hand on behalf of the group and say the answer for the team. Although one person was raising their hand on behalf of the team, the team was supposed to communicate together and help their team leaders arrive at the correct answer. Another interesting thing about the game was that I changed the team “leaders” multiple times throughout the games- so students had the opportunity to quickly adapt to different leading styles and learned how to communicate in different ways. I was pleased to see that students’ teams did significantly better when the whole team was helping the team leader arrive at the correct answer, and that students got better and better at working together as the game progressed. We also spoke in depth about sportsmanship, teaching the students that we should be happy for the other team when they get points, instead of becoming upset. We also spoke about perseverance, where students learned that even if their team is losing, it is important to keep trying and stay motivated as a team. The students had lots of fun with the game- which actually ended in a tie by the end of the session! Finally, students had a brief discussion about leadership and teamwork, and how these both manifested themselves in this game. Way to go IPR!

Getting to know teammates through holiday games

In Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh before Christmas time, students participated in an activity about teamwork and leadership. We first reviewed some of the important characteristics of a leader, which students felt very comfortable addressing after discussing this topic a few weeks ago. Then, we took this a step further and talked about how a leader should treat his/her team members. Students did a great job of explaining how someone could be a leader in a team situation, such as helping their teammates if they have problems, and being supportive towards them. We then took this a step further, discussing how important it is for a leader to get to know his/her team and appreciate their values and uniqueness- not just while they are working on something together, but all of the time.
To delve into this idea in a more hands-on manner, we played a game about students’ favorite things, where students got to learn more about their other teammates in a fun way. This game had to do with Christmas, where students first had to whispered to me what they wanted for Christmas. I then wrote down what everyone wanted for Christmas on individual pieces of paper and shuffled the cards in the middle. One by one, students picked up a random piece of paper and had to guess which person wanted which Christmas gift. If they could not guess the correct person after three turns, then we would tell them who wrote that particular Christmas gift. After each person’s Christmas gift was revealed, I asked the student to say why he/she wanted that particular gift for Christmas. I then asked the other students what they learned about this student by learning about what they wanted for Christmas.
This worked out great, and students got to learn more about their teammates through this activity. For example, one student wanted a suitcase for Christmas. After a bit of discussion, some of her classmates learned that this student likes to travel, has family she would like to visit in India, and has always wanted to visit this country. Students also learned about some things they had in common with their teammates, which was another important topic we highlighted in our discussion: even though you might seem very different from someone else in your team, you can always work to find similarities or similar interests between yourself and others.
Finally, I asked students what they would buy from other people in their class for Christmas if they could actually buy them a gift. I was so happy to see that the student who wrote “makeup” wanted to buy makeup for her friends who mentioned, “Woah cool- I want makeup too!” during our game. It was really great to see students learning new information about their friends and taking the time to truly value their teammates interests, experiences, and similarities through this activity.

Leadership discussion and activities at North Regional Library

Yesterday at North Regional Library, the students did two things: a leadership discussion about Leadership at Schools, and an activity called A Leader Is… These students are always so attentive, talented, and filled with interesting ideas.

During our discussion, students talked about ways that leadership could be better incorporated into their school. The students had incredibly interesting ideas. Their main idea was to have more opportunities for students to lead in the classroom. For example, they mentioned that there could be an assigned leader for the day, and that person would take roll for the teacher, make sure that all of the students are focused, help read things out loud for the class, take the lunch pass to the office, and more. They noted that this would be a great way for students to have the opportunity to act as a leader, while also doing important tasks in the classroom and allowing students to feel like they were really making a difference in class. Students also mentioned that they would like to see more opportunities for academic clubs at school, which they thought would encourage students to address ideas such as leadership and school in more detail after school hours. They also mentioned the idea of a debate team, pointing out that having the opportunity to sit and debate/discuss different topics with their friends after school could make some of the more timid students feel more comfortable coming out of their shell and speaking up around their peers. All of these ideas had a common theme of involving students and giving them more opportunities to participate and serve as leaders in the classroom. They also mentioned that it could be important/useful to have more opportunities to learn about students’ cultures at school, and that this could also help students to feel more comfortable expressing themselves in the classroom. Opportunities to explore culture through student organizations, food, and more were all suggestions mentioned by these students. I was very impressed to see how well in depth the students had thought about leadership and ways for everyone to feel more comfortable speaking in the classroom. Since both of these students are naturally louder/feel comfortable expressing their ideas at school, I was also happy to see that they had thought about their other friends who are more quiet too.

Then, students conducted the A Leader Is… activity, where they came up with a short poem about what it means to be a leader. They did a great job of taking turns and thinking about characteristics of leadership that are not very obvious, but that are very important to make sure that someone not only is respected, but that the person respects and cares for others with humility and kindness. Their full poem can be found below:

What it means to be a leader

Is like counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Here are the steps to

Becoming a leader

Step 1: Build self-confidence

Step 2: Give respect/gain respect

Step 3: You gotta rise above

Step 4: Gotta be the bigger person

Step 5: Do fun activities

Step 6: Don’t become

possessive, be FUN!!

What would a leader do at the International Preschool of Raleigh

In Leaders UNITE this week at the International Preschool of Raleigh, the students did a discussion and an activity. Students began with a discussion about leadership called Leadership at Schools, where they got to review important characteristics of a leader. I was so impressed to see students mention very substantial, less obvious characteristics, such as helping their friends, give support to others, listen, and share. Then, we moved our discussion onto leadership in the classroom, specifically, how each of the students used leadership at school. Students mentioned a plethora of things: helping other students with their folders, sharing toys with their friends, checking on their friends who are lonely or crying, and more.

Then, using the ideas from this discussion, students conducted the What Would a Leader Do? activity, which is all about leadership scenarios and acting. I would give the students a situation, and students would have to act our what a leader would do to fix/better the situation. We did many scenarios that could actually happen in the students’ lives, such as, “Someone at school is playing by themselves. What would a leader do?”, “One student is nervous and scared for their Thanksgiving performance. What would a leader do?”, “One person is hogging the tv remote and won’t share with her friends. What would a leader do?”, “You are trying to make sure that everyone has a ride for the upcoming basketball game. What would a leader do?” and more. The students did a great job of thinking of what a leader would do to better these situations, such as communicating, making sure their friends are okay, asking questions to see how their friends feel, and making sure to hear everyone’s ideas.

I was very impressed with the students’ solutions to these scenarios and also with their acting skills! I was also impressed at how they were able to apply the concept of leadership to all of these different scenarios, showing they truly had an understanding of the idea that leadership can be used and manifested in many different scenarios. The students continue to get even better every week, and I am so proud of them!

Here is a full list of the scenarios students used for their What Would a Leader Do? activity:

  1. School: One person at school is being mean to other students at the playground. What would a leader do?
  2. Basketball team: The basketball team has a big game in Florida this weekend, but they need to figure out how they will get there. What would a leader do?
  3. Watching tv: You are watching tv with some friends, but one person keeps hogging the remote and won’t share. What would a leader do?
  4. On the phone: One person is on the phone, and another student is intentionally being very loud, so that person cannot hear on the phone. What would a leader do?
  5. Stuffed animal: Your friend lost his/her stuffed animal. What would a leader do?
  6. Lonely student: You notice one student sitting by himself/herself at school. What would you do?
  7. Nervous student: One student is nervous and scared for her/his upcoming school performance. What would a leader do?

Leadership at schools

One purpose of Leaders UNITE is to help students see that leadership can be fun, and that anyone can step up as a leader in any situation. Think about your own school/a program you are a part of. Now take the time to think about how that school/program could incorporate leadership more into their curriculum. What would you do to provide more opportunities for students to be leaders/feel comfortable speaking out at your school?

This can be done as an activity or a discussion. For the discussion, just answer the question above. For an activity, do the discussion and then create a letter that you would send to your school showing them what they can do to create more opportunities for leadership in the classroom. If you have time, even think of actual changes you would implement and write them out in a detailed plan.


Students will have 25 minutes to do this discussion and activity. Be creative and try to think outside of the box!

*Note: If you are stuck for ideas, here are a few:

  • Creating more opportunities for small group learning.
  • Creating more opportunities for students to step up as leaders in the classroom.
  • Having afterschool leadership programs.
  • Having a debate or discussion team where you get to discuss important topics in leadership.
  • Creating opportunities for people to share their culture/identity with the class.

What would a leader do?

As we are learning through this club, leadership can come about in many different ways, and in many different situations. In this activity, it is your turn to show us what a leader would do in a particular situations. You will be given one of the following scenarios, and you and your team must create a scene to resolve the conflict. You and your group will have to act this out, so make sure your skit really shows what a leader would do in these situations.

Your group will have 15 minutes to create and plan your skit!


  1. You are working on a group project with a few of your classmates, and you notice that one of the students always comes late to group meetings. When he is there, you notice that he never says anything, and that he is always yawning. What would a leader do?
  2. You see one kid getting picked on at school by some of his classmates. They claim that they are just joking around, but you see that the student actually looks hurt. What would a leader do?
  3. Your friend comes to you and tells you that she is feeling sad. What would a leader do?
  4. You see a girl sitting by herself during lunch time at school. What would a leader do?

Working together, acting, and dancing at North Regional Library

Two weeks ago at North Regional Library, the students participated in two Leaders UNITE activities. In the first half of our session, the students conducted the A New End to a Movie activity, where they had to think about a movie ending that was unfair or unjust, and act our a new way to end the movie. The students selected a horror movie, and chose to make the antagonist talk out his problems with the protagonist, as opposed to becoming bitter and turning against the family. The students did a wonderful job of selecting a movie together and acting it out. The students bounced ideas off of one another well.

The second activity that students conducted was It’s Dance Time!, where they had to come up with a dance/choreography to 1 minute and 30 seconds of a famous song. I let the students select the song. Since a few of the students were all skilled dancers, they had to work together to think about how they could combine their interests in dancing and their different dance moves into one dance. There was another student who was not a dancer, but he still had some great opinions about the type of dancing that he wanted to include in the dance, and I was happy that the students also incorporated that type of dancing into their choreography. Their dance was very sharp, and I was happy to see all of the students work together. All of these students are natural performers, and seemed to derive more confidence and energy from one another’s presence.

Public Speaking and Toy Talk at the International Preschool of Raleigh

Today in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, the students did an activity called Toy Talk, where they got the opportunity to practice their public speaking. This was the first time we introduced the concept of public speaking directly to these students, relating it to situations in class, such as when a teacher is talking in front of the whole class. We first brainstormed some qualities that a person should have when speaking in front of others, and students mentioned quite a few: not fidgeting too much, looking at everyone in the audience, and talking loud enough for everyone to hear or using a microphone if the room is very big.

Then, we spoke about qualities an audience member should have while listening to someone speak, and students mentioned being respectful, listening to the person speaking, making eye contact, and staying quiet while the other person is talking.

After this, students took turn standing in front of the whole class and speaking about their favorite toy (the name of the toy, what it looks like, and why they student likes this particular today). After each student gave his/her presentation, we discussed together as a class some of the good qualities that this person used in his/her presentation, specifically based on what we discussed earlier about public speaking (ex. The student didn’t fidget too much, the student used clear words to articulate his/her thoughts, the student did a good job explaining the toy to the class, etc.), The students did a great job of listening to one another, complimenting one another on their public speaking, and speaking in front of their friends!

We also had a new student today, who came from our youngest classroom at the school. She did an amazing job with this group, did a great job with her public speaking, and was so well poised. We are so happy to have a new very talented leader in our program, and that more students are finding value in participating in Leaders UNITE!

Proving that anyone can be a successful leader