Tag Archives: leaders

Leadership lessons from TV

Do you have a favorite TV show? Did you know that many TV shows actually include many important life lessons in their episodes? And many of these same TV shows also teach us very important lessons about leadership too!

Take 15 minutes to think about a lesson about leadership you learned from a TV show. It could be something obvious (ex. an example of someone being a leader in a workplace or school, someone leading a sports team, etc.) or something less obvious (ex. someone encouraging another person, someone standing up for another person, causing a change or making a difference in their community, etc.). Then, if you are doing this as a public speaking activity, you will come to the front of the class and present your scenario to your peers, answering these questions in your presentation:

  1. What is the name of the TV show?
  2. What happens in the episode where a character uses leadership?
  3. How can this be applied to our own lives?

If you are doing this activity as a team building activity, instead of presenting the scene to the class, you and your group will pick one scene together and act out the scene for the class! You do not have to act it out word for word, so you can feel free to put your own spin on the scene.

Making a Larger Impact; Achieving a Long-Term Goal

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.

SoccerDance- the Newest Sports Combo!

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!

Using creativity in activities and communication at North Regional Library

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!

Leading in their own way at Southwest Regional Library

This week at Southwest Regional Library, we had some new students come to participate in our club. We are always happy to have new and returning students in our club and watch students conduct our activities while getting to know other members of our club. This week, students did the activity The Newest App, but did a website instead. Our former student was also there, but when she did the activity, she did it by herself, so it would be interesting to see how the dynamic was different as she redid the activity with other people.

An interesting thing happened in this session, which reinforced the mission and goals of Leaders UNITE. The first was as follows. While the students conducted the activity and worked together to create their own app, it was clear that all of the students were leaders in different ways, and contributed different things to the group. While going through our post-activity reflection, I spoke with the students about this aspect. One of the students took initiative, she was the one who came up with the app idea, and the person who quickly moved the discussion in a specific direction. It was clear that this student was creative and was serving as a leader, as she created the idea, wrote down everything for the group, and continued to pitch good ideas and reasoning to the group.

One of the other students began to speak up more as the activity continued. And while she was not the person who came up with the ideas, she was just as much of a leader in her own unique way. This student did not come up with the original app idea, but was continuously keeping ideas in check. She would ask, “What is the purpose of that?”, “Couldn’t we do it this was?”, and more questions that steered the website idea into something more concrete, practical, and useful. The dialogue that she added to the conversation was just as important, as it made sure the website the students create was sound, had necessary features, and that everything added to the idea made sense and was feasible. Without this person creating these questions and stopping points for the group, the website might not have ever become as specific or as practical as needed.

The other student, the student who had done this activity a few weeks ago by herself, also took on a very important role in the group in her own unique way. The students’ website idea was similar to Quizlet, but for a broader variety of subjects and with more features, such as a study break feature, combining words to make sentences feature, and more features for learning Language Arts. However, this student loved Khan Academy, and the features that that program had to offer. While the other two students didn’t know what Khan Academy was, this student took initiative to bring in ideas from that program to give the rest of her team ideas of how to broaden their website and include even more features. Again, although this might not have seemed like a stereotypical leadership role, this student was also serving as a leader by integrating other information to fill in holes in the website idea. It was also great to see this student work with others on this new website idea, which was very different than the one she had created when she did this activity on her own.

This day was a perfect example of what Leaders UNITE stands for and why I created the club in the first place. Everyone leads in different ways, and no one needs to be exactly one type of mold to be a leader. People can take on different roles in a group that are all equally important and contribute different things to the overall idea and group dynamic. And while these may manifest themselves differently in different people, the goal of the club is for students to discover how they lead, and then to become comfortable leading in their own unique way. I was proud to be able to reiterate this idea with students during our group reflection, and I was thrilled to be able to witness this taking place from an observer perspective. It is not bad to be the one who doesn’t come up with the idea. It is also not bad to be the one that does come up with the idea. The goal of the club is not say you can’t be the loudest person in the room, but instead that you don’t have to be. The idea of the club is to foster communication and teamwork while also taking into account people’s individual leadership skills. And while I will continue to work with this group on teamwork and different aspects of leadership, it was great to see them all take on their own unique, important leadership roles in a team.

Leaders UNITE: leaders in recycling!

Today for Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, students became leaders in recycling! The school plans to get some recycling bins soon, and today, Leaders UNITE students learned what it means to recycle. Students then created a rule list for recycling to paste in school for all of their other friends to learn about recycling. Students then made a supply list of things they want to recycle at school, so that teachers could go shopping for different types of recycling bins for their school. The first pictures shows their recycling rules list. The second picture shows the rule list alongside some of the students’ drawings of recyclables (paper, newspaper, glass bottles, recycling bins) and some animals that can be saved when we recycle!

Great job being leaders in the community, students!

IPR recycling initiative

IPR recycling initiative 2

1B

This group was very energetic, I must say. I could tell that all of them loved the project, but at the same time, they also kept talking during one another’s presentations. They had so much energy and did not know how to control it. The students had very creative ideas; however, similar to some of the previous groups, it became apparent that there was a lack of compromise amongst some of the groups with regards to the app. One group selected an outfit-chooser. This was a common app created by girls’ groups, but in some of the groups that contained girls and boys, it became apparent that the boys only agreed to do the app because they believed a compromise could not be formed. Although it seemed like the activity had been unbeneficial for these students, when I asked how they created their creative presentation, all of the students were able to point out what they wrote for the presentation. The group ended their presentation with a witty remark about how their app would be available in the app store within a few days.

Although the app idea would never be approved by teachers, some students came up with a creative app to help students cheat on homework assignments. Aside from the fact that they thought about everything- even if the teacher walks by while the student is using the app- I won’t say anything more about that specific app.

One group took a very creative route to the project which involved a great deal of teamwork, compromise, and subtle leadership. The group listed all of the apps that they liked, and then they called me over. They asked me whether they were allowed to combine real apps that they liked into one mega-app that had new and unique features. Although the purpose of the activity was for the groups to create their own apps, I allowed the group to do so because it was a new and creative idea. In order to access different features of their app, prospective users had to beat a game, etc. which meant that their app incorporated multiple skills into one app. It was very creative, and the logo was a combination of all of the apps’ logos. To make the app even more unique, they changed names such as Instagram and Snapchat into Instantgram and Snapdog. It was extremely well-planned!

This group’s discussion was very similar to that of the other groups. Aside from group that combined all of the different applications, every other group maintained a normal compromise, subtle leadership relationship.

5S

This group really got the idea of a presentation. The students made the presentations extremely enjoyable. One group started with rhetorical question regarding the purpose of the app. Another group mentioned a “review” of sorts that highlighted why their app was more effective than other apps of similar function. Within these two groups, they said that they all came up with the ideas together. They were ideal groups- they each stated many ideas and then eventually decided on one idea that encompassed all of their ideas into one. Then they each came up with their own witty ideas for the presentation. They finished within the time limit as well.

While two of the groups were ideal, one group remained problematic. In a group of three girls where one wanted to do next to nothing regarding leadership, the students could not agree on a single idea. They did not want to think and they did not want to compromise or come to any sort of consensus. When time was up, they suggested an app that one of the previous groups had mentioned. Even though they had another suggestion that was more creative, the students did not want to do the activity one bit. Although I still got across the point of leadership and teamwork with the majority of the class, there was nothing I could say to the group of girls that would make them care.

Yes, the students learned lessons about leadership during this class period, but I believe that I learned the most important lesson during this class period. I learned as long as someone listens, everything is okay. At first, I was upset that the girls were not interested in my project. It seemed like everyone else so far had at least enjoyed the project. However, these girls did not even pretend to enjoy the project. I was offended and felt like the students did not respect me. But at the same time, the two other groups loved the project and executed it perfectly. They listened, acted, and understood. They gleaned valuable information through this project that they can use during their school on a daily basis. When reflecting on this, I realized that it is most important to get my message across regardless of the amount of people listening. As long as at least someone gains knowledge from my teachings, then I have accomplished something. This is an important mentality to have with regards to leadership as well. As a leader, not everyone is going to agree with everything you say. Not everyone is going to appreciate you taking charge. However, it is important to help the group achieve a common goal, and it is equally important to know that as long as you act in a respectable manner and share your teachings, at least someone will listen.

2B

The students seemed very excited to do the project. They were all cheering when I said that they were going to create their own app. They asked if they can pick their groups after I said the groups would be by columns. I explained to them that the point of the project was to be in groups that didn’t exactly fit their friend group, interests, etc. Most groups finished within the 20 minutes, but some of the 5 groups had one or two things to complete after time was up. This was the first time that all of the groups had different ideas for their project and none of the ideas really overlapped among the groups. My favorite idea from the group was a mind reader that could tap into someone’s emotions when you hold the phone up to them.

I am not sure whether it is due to the age or maybe the closeness of the grade, but even though I separated the groups in ways that didn’t accommodate for close friend groups, all of the students managed to come up with ideas that everyone in the group enjoyed. It was great, but it also made the amount of discussion a bit less prominent. At least, that was what I thought until I asked the groups which person made the logo (or if everyone made it together) and in each group, only one person made the logo. I touched on the fact that since one person technically made the logo, that was some sort of leadership in and of itself. One person took charge to create a logo. That has some form of leadership within the group and definitely deserves some recognition. One girl answered the question perfectly, everyone acted as leaders for their own part of the project. She completely got the idea of how leadership fit into the project, and it was almost like she was echoing the words I had so many times spoken to other groups.

In this class, the students were less interested in asking one another questions about the other groups’ apps. However, the groups put a lot of effort into their apps and the creativity behind each of the apps. Overall, the students understood the idea of teamwork relatively well.