I originally created Leaders UNITE with two goals in mind: 1.) showing students that leadership can be fun and 2.) showing students that anyone can be a leader. Zooming in on the second goal, it was very important to me that students understood that they did not have to fit a stereotypical leadership mold or personality in order to become successful leaders. Therefore, this goal took on a role not only encompassing activities and discussions, but also encompassing ways of helping students become more confident in their own abilities and personalities. This year especially, I have had the opportunity to not only share Leaders UNITE with students and teachers, but also with students’ parents. I have recently had the opportunity to talk with quite a few students’ parents and guardians, and was very happy with the feedback I have received about Leaders UNITE on the students’ confidence and demeanors.
Some parents have recently told me that Leaders UNITE has helped their children to come out of their shell- at school and even at home. As a club, we always want students to feel comfortable with their own personalities, showing students that they can become successful leaders even if they aren’t the most talkative or “stereotypical” types of leaders. To hear that some students felt more comfortable being themselves at school and at home because of this club just makes me so happy to hear.
Some parents have also recently told me that Leaders UNITE has helped their children to feel more comfortable interacting with their peers. One thing we often highlight in Leaders UNITE is teamwork, and that it is important to know your teammates on a personal level to know their strengths/interests/how they can best contribute to the team. A huge part of this is making sure that students become comfortable interacting with their peers and being themselves around their peers. Therefore, to see some students go from rarely interacting with their peers to then becoming comfortable enough to openly interact with their peers makes me very happy.
This feedback from parents is particularly meaningful to me because although I can often see changes in students’ confidence over the months, I only get to see them during Leaders UNITE. Of course, I definitely can see improvements in students’ participation, leadership, etc. throughout our sessions, but I don’t often get indication as to how this club affects students in their daily lives. Therefore, it is so nice to hear that there are meaningful differences in students’ confidence levels that are noticeable each and every day. This is the kind of impact we want to have on students- not just making them more comfortable with me or the idea of leadership, but helping to create a positive image of themselves and their abilities that lasts much longer than their time at Leaders UNITE.
I am so proud of the environment we have created, and by the fact that Leaders UNITE was able to make a meaningful impact on these students’ lives. I surely hope that the club can continue to do this for many years to come.
Yesterday in Leaders UNITE, the students did an activity called Sports Combo, where they worked on teamwork and thinking outside the box. In this activity, the students had to combine their two favorite sports together to create one new sport. For this new sport, they had to come up with the rules, name of the game, number of players on each team, how to win, and more things that are important in a sport. Since they were combining two sports together, it was important for the students to incorporate aspects of both sports into their new creation.
First, we took a vote to determine which two sports were the favorite amongst all of the students. The winners were soccer and dance! Then, the students had to work together to come up with the rules of their new sport. Although at first, it seemed difficult to combine both of these very different sports, the students did an awesome job thinking outside the box to combine dance and soccer. Here’s what they came up with:
The students created a game called SoccerDance. In this game, players kick a soccer ball, which has pictures of dancers and ballerinas on it. However, you can’t just kick the ball like a normal soccer ball: you have to be dancing and/or twirling while kicking the ball! In this game, players can score 1-6 points by kicking the ball into the goal while dancing. The points for a goal increase depending on the type and complexity of the dance move that the person uses while kicking the ball into the goal. This game takes place inside an open classroom, and lasts a total of 40 minutes. Each team has 5 players
I was very impressed to see students bounce ideas off of one another and take initiative to state their ideas. Once one person came up with the first idea, it seemed to spark everyone else to think about combining the two sports. I was also impressed to see students thinking about their own experiences with these sports in order to better combine them together. For example, when thinking about how many minutes the game should be, students initially thought of 30 minutes. However, some of the students who dance mentioned that their dance classes are sometimes 45 minutes, so they decided to make a compromise and make SoccerDance 40 minutes long. It was great to see that students could draw on their own experiences while also thinking outside of the box. This was a pretty complex activity, and I was proud to see the students step up to tackle this. By the end of the activity, all of the students seemed very excited to try out SoccerDance!
In this activity, we combine Find Someone Who with Hand Signs to make a new game- assigned leader style! In this activity, students do the Find Someone Who Activity (assigned leader style) where they have to take turns figuring out how many people in the class can do a certain thing listed on the page. However, in this version, the students have to lead the group without talking. For example, if they have to find out how many like jazz music, they have to act it, until people notice they are acting out jazz music. To add another twist to this, they start acting these out one by one, but then begin doing it in twos, so they get practice with leadership as well.
Groups will have 20 minutes to complete this activity. Have fun!