Stand For Leadership: Everyone Can Be a Leader
Author: Marshall Snedaker
February 3, 2016
What is the definition of a leader? The dictionary defines a leader as; the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country. But does that really tell us what a leader is? What qualities and traits does one need to possess to be a leader? In our day and age, a leader needs to have 21st century skills. A leader needs to be able to communicate with others, be self-motivated, a problem solver, actively listen, be responsible and have a positive outlook. Some say that not everyone can be a leader, but I disagree. I believe that everyone can be a leader. What about children? Can they be leaders and possess the above mentioned skills? I firmly believe that the answer that question is yes! I have seen leadership skills in children as young as five years old. Every student that came through the door of my kindergarten classroom showed leadership skills: some by leading their friends in games on the playground, others by working together as a team while building a structure in the block area, and all of my students loved to show what responsible leaders they were when given a job or a task. I feel that every child possesses a special spark in them and some just needed the right teacher to help fan that spark into a flame. I saw children in my classroom go from being out of control and constantly in trouble to being the first one finished with their work so they could be the line leader. I feel that the number one reason for that change was a positive and loving environment that brought out the best in my students. I tried to create a classroom where my students would feel loved and accepted no matter what they did. We had simple and clear rules that everyone followed. I respected each of my students as individuals and tried hard to listen to their input and voice. I found the lessons in my class less teacher directed and more student lead. We were a community of learners that cared about each other and our environment. It was amazing to see how leadership skills flourished in this kind of nurturing environment. The children learned and used their manners, and they tried their best to care for and help one another. My students were immersed in a leadership experience as I integrated and modeled all of the skills I mentioned above in my teaching and interactions with them. They would see and hear me leading by example and they would start to use the same leadership skills I was modeling in their own interactions. When I changed my perspective and expectations to reflect that every child is special, every child is a leader, every child has something to contribute those exact expectations came to fruition. I actively tried to see the best in my students and recognize and tell them how great they were doing and it changed the atmosphere of my classroom. I had students that were motivated and excited to learn. I no longer had to worry about behavior problems because we didn’t have many. Each of my students took responsibility for their actions and the consequences if they made a mistake. Every student in my classroom was being a leader. It does take time to cultivate a classroom environment where leaders can grow, but it is worth it to see young faces light up as they feel pride for being responsible and taking an active part in their education and development. I hope that one of our goals as educators as we move into a new year will be creating classrooms that encourage and build leaders of all ages, and cultivate environments for them to really shine.