“Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves” (The Leader in Me: How Schools and Parents Around the World are Inspiring Greatness, One Child at a Time (2008), Stephen R. Covey, p. 41).
Why is leadership in schools so important? Before you answer, I’m referring to students as leaders in a school, not just the administrators and teachers. Although it is necessary for administrators and teachers to take on a positive leadership role within the school, it is essential that students develop their own leadership skills and use these skills to make a positive impact on the school climate.
Stephen R. Covey is famous for “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” which have been incorporated into developing the leadership skills of students across the world. Why are schools looking to develop leadership skills in their students? According to Covey (2008, p. 4) explains that student leadership:
- improved student achievement
- significantly enhanced self-confidence and esteem in students
- dramatic decreases in discipline problems
- impressive increases in teachers’ and administrators’ job satisfaction and commitment
- greatly improved school cultures
- parents who are delighted and engaged in the process
- business and community leaders who want to lend support
“The Leader in Me” tells the story of several schools that have incorporated student leadership into their daily curriculum and strived to make every student a leader. One such school is A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina that underwent a dramatic transformation after incorporating “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” along with some other leading practices. The book takes you through the issues A.B. Combs Elementary began with and how they underwent a carefully planned metamorphosis into a culture of leadership. Their story is both inspirational and attainable, as Covey takes the reader through the entire process and helps one understand the rational behind each step and how it can be adapted and applied to one’s own school community.
How can you begin to think about student leadership for your school? As Covey explains, you must think of the various stakeholders (parents, business community, teachers, and students) want from a school and begin from there. Right now, we have five committees for our grade 7 and 8 students, in order to help them develop leadership skills while assisting the school community, but I would like to work on our strategies and evolve our model, so I will be further researching this topic and its application. Check out http://www.theleaderinme.org/ for more ideas on how to get started.
How do you develop the leadership skills of your students? What opportunities are they given to showcase their skills and use them for the betterment of the school community?
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