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!!
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:
- School: One person at school is being mean to other students at the playground. What would a leader do?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Stuffed animal: Your friend lost his/her stuffed animal. What would a leader do?
- Lonely student: You notice one student sitting by himself/herself at school. What would you do?
- Nervous student: One student is nervous and scared for her/his upcoming school performance. What would a leader do?
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.
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!
- 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?
- 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?
- Your friend comes to you and tells you that she is feeling sad. What would a leader do?
- You see a girl sitting by herself during lunch time at school. What would a leader do?
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.
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!
Yesterday in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, students did a Halloween related activity, which you can learn more about at the following hyperlink: Halloween Discussion and Positivity at the International Preschool of Raleigh. Part of the activity included drawing a picture of themselves in their Halloween costume, based on some of the compliments that they received from their friends. One of the students actually gave me her picture after school, as a gift. She dressed up as a ladybug for Halloween, and made sure to draw her costume’s beautiful wings, headpiece, and striped outfit as well, which her friends It was very sweet, and I will treasure this picture!
For Leaders UNITE yesterday at the International Preschool of Raleigh, we took advantage of the fact that it was Halloween. Students did a Halloween-related activity that worked on their public speaking, inquisition, discussion, and encouragement skills. To practice their public speaking, students took turns presenting their Halloween costumes as well as why/how they selected that particular costume. It was very interesting to learn more about students through their costumes, and their reasons for selecting a particular costume.
Then to practice their inquisition and discussion skills, students asked their classmates questions about their costume, which ranged from question about where the person stores the Halloween costume and whether their sibling are wearing similar costume to questions about personal stories behind the students’ choice of costume. I was very impressed with the caliber of students’ questions, as well as the personal touches their questions added.
To encourage positivity and kindness among students, everyone then went around the room and said something they like about their friends’ costumes. The students had much to share, and complimented various aspects of their classmates’ costumes, such as the sparkles, capes, skirt, dress, hair bow, and more.
To end our session, students drew pictures of themselves in their costumes, with a particular emphasis on features that their classmates liked. For example, students liked one person’s costume because it was sparkly, so in her picture of her costume, she made sure to include tons of sparkles. Another student’s costume was admired for its beautiful wings, so that student made sure to spend time drawing the wings in her drawing. It was wonderful to see how students remembered what their classmates liked about their costumes- a little compliment could go a long way!
The students did an amazing job with their discussion today, with everyone waiting patiently for their turn, raising their hand, listening to their friends, and waiting patiently until it was their turn to share. It was amazing to see how focused everyone was on learning about one another’s costumes and their enthusiasm for asking questions and complimenting their friends.
This week at North Regional Library, students did the new activity Marketing a New (Old) Product, where they had to create a new consumer product based on an object in the room that I selected for them. But there was a catch– their product’s function could not be the actual function of the object! In other words, if I gave the group a pencil as their object, the function of the consumer product could not be to write. Therefore, students had to get very creative with their objects, in order to create a brand new function for them!
In our group, the students who participated worked very well together. They did a wonderful job of bouncing ideas off of one another and using their time very effectively. They were also natural public speakers– they did not even need to rehearse or write down their commercial, and they were even able to improvise new, func aspects of the commercials by themselves. They were completely in sync as well, improvising and adding features of their commercial together. Here’s an insight into how these students tackled the activity:
The students were given three different objects one at a time, and the third time around, there was a little twist on their instructions. Their first object was a styrofoam cup. The students created a product that could be decorated and customized. Their product was one where you could carry cereal around, and use with heated water as a foot bath (how creative!). The students came up with a commercial that highlighted all the important features of this object, including that it won’t break when you drop it, and that it is environmentally friendly and reusable. It was nice to see them comparing this function to other things, in order to emphasize why their product was unique/better (such as saying it won’t break when you drop it.)
The students’ second object was a pair of children’s fairy wings in the classroom (probably for Halloween). The students stuck with a theme of decoration, highlighting that these wings could be things children use to decorate. However, this was only an addition to the function of their product, which was to actually make children fly! They made their product include moving sensors to make the wings move along with a person’s hand motions, and included a metal portion of the wings to be heavy enough to lift a child up. It was very interesting to see their take on this product, since they were able to take the actual function to a new level by making this a product that could make children actually fly. I also didn’t even know about the motion sensor thing, so it was very interesting to see the students pull from other objects they had seen about on tv.
The third object for the students was a hairbrush. The students were getting very good at this activity, so now it was time to add the twist. This time, only one of the students could talk/write, and the other student could not use their words or write. The students were very good at communicating with each other, so I wanted to see how this would play out if students were not able to communicate in conventional ways. I made the person who was originally writing down the ideas unable to write or verbally communicate, and she had to result to acting things out and using hand gestures to get her ideas across. I could automatically see a difference in communication when this came into play. At first, the students found it hard to get on the same page, with them both expressing different ideas. But then, the person who was able to talk began guessing instead of just assuming what the non-verbal communicator was saying, and this create a much more positive dialogue, with both of the students making sure they were on the same page with their ideas. The non-verbal communicator did a great job of acting out sequences to think of the product ideas, and also pointing to me to emphasize other features of the product. Interestingly enough, the non-verbal communicator was the one who came up with the overall idea, and the student who could talk was confirming these ideas through her use of words. I think this had to do with the fact that the student who was talking had to spend extra time to make sure she was correctly understanding the non-verbal communicator’s actions, and this took up extra time and effort. But once I asked them to review what they had so far, the student who could talk began adding important features as well. Once it was time for the presentation (where both students could talk again), it was clear that they were indeed on the same page about their idea. Their hairbrush would shoot moisturizing agent out to help with dry or brittle hair, or would also be in a hair store to provide wigs for people.
Although we did not have time for the reflection period, I was very impressed with the communication I saw in the group. Both of these students are very talented and creative. Of course, the twist in the third situation made things more difficult and maybe even shifted the dynamic a bit about how the students were coming up with the ideas, but the students were quickly able to adapt to this and find ways to constructively work together to get on the same page. If we had more time in our session, it would have been interesting to do one more product, but this time switching who was talking and who was not, so that we could see how the dynamic shifted again. I often enjoy adding this twist to activities, so that students can practice the idea of working with different types of people, or people who have different methods of communication. Especially in this situation, where the two students were already friends and knew they worked well together before we even started our session. Therefore, it was very interesting to see how this played out in this week’s session!
I am excited to continue working with these students, and seeing how their participation and reflections continue to impress me throughout the school year!