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Leaders UNITE Conference Pictures!

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Why Leaders UNITE?

Preface:

There are many different strategies for leadership development. Although each strategy has different methods, they all have a common goal- to create more effective leaders. So why should you use Leaders UNITE? What is so special about this program that should make you invest the time and effort in our program? In this article, we will explain Leaders UNITE methods and the reason for our madness.

Goals:

Leaders UNITE was founded to break two stereotypes: leadership is boring and only certain types of people can become leaders. To break the stereotype that leadership is boring, Leaders UNITE consists of multiple hands-on activities in which students can work in groups and foster their own creativity in fun, engaging ways. To break the stereotype that only certain types of people can become leaders, we incorporate assigned leaders, reflection time, and individualized meetings/activities. To give you a better idea of how these concepts work, let us break down some of these examples.

Hands-on activities:

What they are:

A full list of Leaders UNITE activities can be found on the “Activities” page, but the majority of the activities relate to public speaking, presenting in front of a group, creating curriculums in leadership, etc. Some of the activities can be done in different ways, for example, assigned leaders can be used in the process or restrictions can be placed on the students in order to foster creative development. Many of the activities are done in small groups, and they all require some sort of presentation at the end of the session.

Why they work:

First, utilizing hands-on activities allows students to put themselves in a group environment and in scenarios that mimic real life. Then, when students get put in real-life situations that involve leadership, they will already be in the habit of using their leadership abilities from this hands-on activities. Also, hands-on activities allow teachers and facilitators to directly see the students’ improvement in their leadership abilities without relying on papers or hear-says. Also, hands-on activities are a prime opportunity for students to interact with one another and also to signal out people’s individual leadership tendencies when they interact in a group environment.

Discussions:

What they are:

These are just regular, group discussion questions. Students speak about issues related to leadership development, leadership in a school environment, and leadership on a larger scale. Many of the discussions start off broad and move into more focused, in depth topics related to leadership, personal biases, and beliefs. Everyone is encouraged to participate. The discussions at the beginning of the year are more focused around beliefs and leadership as a whole. Then, they move into leadership hierarchies, leadership in a group environment, and different roles of individuals within the group. However, the majority of the discussions centralize around leadership in the classroom, how certain aspects can hinder/help individuals, and how to improve this aspect.

Why they work:

The discussions allow people to discover their own beliefs and to stand by them. This is an integral part of leadership development which allows people to allow discover their tendencies as leaders. Also, students are more likely to speak out when there are general questions about beliefs or other topics that they have general knowledge and opinions about. Going from individual leadership to group leadership to classroom leadership allows students to develop a strong framework about their own leadership tendencies and the “ideal” methods of leadership before applying this knowledge to the classroom. Also, discussions help others, including teachers, develop an understanding of the way individuals think and what they believe with regards to leadership.

Show and Learn:

What it is:

Show and Learn allows students to demonstrate their creative abilities. This year-long activity allows students to present one of their talents to the group and then teach the group a short routine related to their talent. Examples include singing for the group and then teaching the class some basics about singing, dancing and then teaching the students a basic dance, reading poetry and then walking students through writing a poem, etc. It does not matter what your talent is; we want a variety! Be creative and enjoy doing and teaching something you are passionate about.

Why it works:

This activity works well for two reasons: building confidence and working on communication skills. This activity helps students build confidence because they get to do something that they do confidence in. For example, some people are very timid in small group discussions, but they feel natural and confident while singing on stage. Giving those students the opportunity to sing and do something they feel comfortable doing, then they will begin to feel more comfortable with their group in general.

This activity also gives students the opportunity to work on their communication skills. Although it may be easy for a professional dancer to perform in front of a group, teaching others how to dance is completely different and requires a new way of thinking about dance. Also, it can be very difficult to explain and communicate information and instructions to other people. Giving students the opportunity to do so allows them to practice speaking to others and conveying information in different ways so they are able to understand the information. Sometimes, people are able to explain information in a way that makes sense to them, but it does not make sense to other people. In order to grow as a leader, speaker, and group member, you need to be able to  find different, effective ways of communicating information within a group so that everyone is able to understand the information.

Community Activities:

What they are:

There are many community activities, such as Compliment Cards, YAS (You are Special), and putting together programs at a local retirement home. While these are just few of the activities that students can partake in (a full list of preliminary suggestions can be found under the “Community Activities” page), all of them have common goals: to help others and to work together as a group. These activities can be done within the school community or also in the larger community. The number of people for each activity can also vary, and other people within the community are welcome to join.

Why they work:

Activities such as Compliment Cards and YAS are important because they foster encouragement within the group. Many students who go through this program may not be 100% confident about some aspects of their leadership, and it is always important for people to know that their talents are appreciated in the group. It is just as important for students to hear these positive words of encouragement from their fellow peers. While it is nice to let others know that their hard work is appreciated, it is also important to give others compliments in other aspects of their lives.

Community activities such as retirement home performances, food drives, etc. help students work on their planning skills. Giving the students complete freedom to organize when, where, and what activity will take place within the community is a prime opportunity for students to take charge and work towards a common goal. It also gives students a chance to work with one another outside of a school/Leaders UNITE environment. These also give students a perception of what occurs in their larger community.

The website:

What it is:

All of the information regarding the club is on the website. Everything is easy to access, and many branches of the club just get everything off of the website regarding discussions, activities, and other opportunities. Some useful pages involved are Activities, Discussions, Community Activities, etc.

Students are also encouraged to make a WordPress account so that they can comment on discussion posts and then discuss with students from other schools. Instructions to make an account are listed under FAQs and under the “How to make a WordPress account” on the Resources page.

Why it works:

The website allows students to have flexible schedules regarding the club. Different schools can work around their own schedules with regards to choosing activities and discussions that they feel are the most relevant to their students’ leadership development. This allows teachers to merge Leaders UNITE into some of their other leadership-related programs at school or within the community.

 

Making a WordPress account and communicating with other schools gives students exposure to various school systems and various approaches to leadership. Different schools have different approaches to leadership development, and it is always beneficial to gain knowledge about other schools’ programs. Also, discussing with other students, brings about new perspectives and opinions. It gives students a big-picture idea and exposes them to experiences they have not previously discovered.

Leaders UNITE Conference- February 27th

We are proud to announce that our first Leaders UNITE conference will be held on Friday February 27th from 9:30am-3:00pm. It will be in the Cary Academy lecture hall and will include schools with and without Leaders UNITE branches. The meeting will consist of three discussions, three activities from the website, and a few shorter tasks. The focus will be on what it means to be a leader, good vs. bad leadership from an external perspective, and how classroom setting helps and/or hinders leadership development. We will also work on a model of the perfect school environment for leadership development.

Please comment or contact me if you are interested in attending as an administrator or student! Lunch and transportation will be provided.

How to Start Leaders UNITE at Your School

Steps to starting the club:

1. Get a teacher or faculty sponsor to help with the club.

2. Look at the page “2014-2015 Schedule” and read it down each column for a list of activities and discussions.

  • If you have a limited amount of club time, you can pick any activities and discussion prompts as long as you
  • Use all of the activities in bold font
  • Pick a few activities/discussion prompts from each of the 5 categories (UNITE)

3. Send an email to leadersuniteclub@gmail.com so you can be on the email list for club-wide volunteer opportunities and conferences!

4. Create a wordpress account (instructions on “FAQs” page) to connect with other schools and comment on discussion posts.

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A Typical Leaders UNITE Club Meeting:

A Leaders UNITE club meeting could be run in any of the following ways:

Activities and Discussion

  • Starting with a short discussion prompt and spring-boarding into a similar activity (you could also end with a follow-up discussion

Long discussion

  • You could do one huge discussion for the whole club time (you can start with a given prompt, but feel free to venture into other, connected topics of discussion

Volunteer Opportunity

  • You could work on a volunteer project during club time (see some ideas under the “Community Activities” page)

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Notes:

  • This club does not involve any fees, so no need to worry about paying!
  • You will need some paper and pencils, so be sure to keep these handy. Contact leadersuniteclub@gmail.com if you need any assistance in purchasing these items.
  • This club can be done during school time, but if you school does not have club time, feel free to do this club before school or during after school hours.
  • All of the activities and discussions on the schedule are written in ” ” because they correspond to the names of posts under the “Activities” and “Discussion Questions” pages on the website!
  • Feel free to comment on any of the discussion posts, and start a discussion between you and other members of the club!

FAQs

Q: How can I start Leaders UNITE at my school?

A. It’s very easy! Just talk to a teacher or counselor at your school and see what time of day you can do this club. Some schools have club time, so try to start this club during that time. If your school doesn’t have club time, try to start this club before or after school. Or even in a homeroom period. Ask you teacher to see what time works best. Find a faculty member who is willing to facilitate club time, and then you’ll be set! The 2014-2015 schedule is on the website, but feel free to add or eliminate activities based on the amount of club time you have. If you want to incorporate the club in another way feel free to email leadersuniteclub@gmail.com for suggestions. Even if everything is clear with the schedule, we still recommend that you email Leaders UNITE so that you can get updates about events in the area.

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Q. How do I receive information and/or attend state-wide Leaders UNITE events?

A. To receive information about club-wide conferences, volunteer events, and guest speakers, email leadersuniteclub@gmail.com to be added to the email list. If you are starting the club at your school, I recommend doing this, so you can receive information easily.

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Q. How do I respond to the discussion posts on the Leaders UNITE website?

A. We strongly recommend each branch of the club to share their insights on discussion questions in the form of a comment on the discussion post. In order to comment on the post, you must create a WordPress account (www.wordpress.com). Once you are logged in, you can go to the Leaders UNITE website and click “comment” under the specific post. We hope this section allows schools to gain different perspectives on major issues regarding leadership.

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Q. Where is the 2014-2015 schedule and how do I use it?

A. The schedule is posted under the tab “2014-2015 Schedule.” The schedule will open in PowerPoint and goes vertically. For example, you start with all of the activities, discussion questions, etc. that are vertically under “Understanding.” Once your group has completed those, then you move on to “Nourishing,” etc. The activities and discussion prompts are all in quotation marks and therefore correspond to species posts under the “Activities” and “Discussion Questions” pages. If your club has limited time and needs to cut activities and discussion questions, feel free to do so. However, the activities/discussions in bold font are the ones that your club should not cut from the schedule.

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Q. Is there an age requirement for students in the club?

A. No, students of any age group can start this club at their school. However, under the activity section, there are different tabs for elementary, middle, and high schools, so it is important to use the different tabs when doing activities for the club. We believe that you are never too young to learn how to be a leader, so we believe that students of any age can participate in this club.

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Q. Currently, how many branches of Leaders UNITE are there?

A. There are 15 branches of the club in North Carolina that we know of. However, we have been in contact with 6 other schools in the state, 2 county-wide Teen Councils, 1 school in Maryland, a school in Argentina, and a school in Singapore. There are other branches that we have heard of, but they  have not provided contact information to Leaders UNITE, so we are unsure of further information. We hope to continue spreading this club to other schools!

Why should you start Leaders UNITE at your school?

  • It gives a unique approach to leadership through engaging real-life scenarios
  • It gives a chance to gain new perspectives through the discussions and communication with other schools around the world
  • Through the setup of the activities, students will be able to monitor their own individual growth as a leader as well as their improvement in group dynamic
  • The students will get plenty of volunteer opportunities within the community  through volunteer opportunities presented by members of the club, assisting the elementary school branches, etc.
  • The meetings are very relaxed, and the club activity schedule can be altered depending on the amount of time the group has
  • The activities are fun, and can even be molded to fit something that the students are learning about or doing at school (just let the founder know, and she can make it work)
  • The students will get exposed to other schools, their school systems, and even be able to communicate with schools in other states/countries to see their perspectives on leadership and similar topics