The Leader in Me Through the Eyes of a Fourth-Grade Teacher
Author: Carissa Logan
June 22, 2016
This is a guest post written by Jamie Chenault, Fourth-Grade Teacher at Lakewood Elementary In Cecilia, Kentucky.
You go throughout life making decisions and learning right from wrong, but what effects these decisions? Maybe you have a gut feeling or you take into consideration advice from a trusted mentor.
How often do you rely on others to make decisions for you?
How often do you take for granted that others know right from wrong?
Before becoming a Leader in Me educator, my answers to these questions as an educator of elementary students would have been always. Before my Leader in Me students were exposed to the 7 Habits, their answer would have been almost always to always.
Within the past two school years, I have seen a change of demeanor among myself, my students, my colleagues, and the parents. What changed? Lakewood Elementary became a Leader in Me School.
- As a school, we have synergized and began using the 7 Habits in our own lives and within our classrooms. There is not a day that goes by that I will be walking down the hallway and hear a student or a teacher referring to one of the habits.
- It could be a fifth-grade teacher asking which habit a character is portraying, or a kindergarten teacher solving a “mystery” on the playground.
- As a school, we have represented the 7 Habits visually. Everywhere you look, there is some reference to one of the habits. The students are continually reminded of the importance of the 7 Habits because we have made it a part of our school culture.
A snapshot inside of my classroom would consist of seeing “Leaders of Their Own Learning.” My students make choices on a daily basis, and because of the 7 Habits, most of the time they make the right choice—with an emphasis on most of the time. My fourth graders are still kids and are not always going to make the right decision; however, having the foundation of the 7 Habits helps them reflect and make the right choice. It’s a part of our everyday language and thoughts. My classroom also consists of a teacher-leader who lives by the 7 Habits at home and at school. I find myself using and modeling the habits every day. I am honored to be able to call myself a Leader in Me educator.
- As an educator, I provide opportunities for my students to make decisions, and in return, reflect on the decisions they make.
- As an educator, I believe that everyone has their own strengths, and even though they are all different, I allow each student to shine.
- As an educator, I incorporate the 7 Habits into daily discussions. (I find it especially rewarding when the students are having a discussion and I hear a habit referenced.)
What direct effect have I seen in my classroom in regard to the students?
- As students, they smile a lot more. They set and achieve goals. They are proud of their work. They own their choices.
- As students, they are patient. They think of others before themselves. They listen and try to understand others’ feelings.
- As students, they are confident. They do not just talk about leadership, they show it. They make eye contact with those to whom they are speaking. They are on a mission to be role models.
- As students, they are respectful. They understand and acknowledge differences.
- As students, they only need one classroom rule: Be a Leader!
As we are faced with decisions, we must not assume our students know right from wrong. There are so many factors and circumstances out of our control when it comes to our students’ personal lives. However, what we as educators can control is laying a foundation of life skills: the 7 Habits of Happy Kids.
I can confidently say these students will go through life referring back to the 7 Habits, which makes life a lot easier on me in the sense of KNOWING I am leaving an everlasting impression.
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Tags: Student Engagement, staff engagement, leadership culture, student potential, 21st century education, student motivation, student leadership, whole-child education, student empowerment, The Leader in Me, teachers, teaching leadership, school environment, school culture, 21st century skills, holistic education