Millions of students at Leader in Me Schools are learning to embrace their leadership potential. The Student Leadership Portrait™ outlines the specific skills and competencies student leaders are developing at Leader in Me Schools in order to thrive in the 21st century. The model has four broad categories, with three competencies per category, all of which help students learn to lead themselves and others.
Depth of Knowledge
Creating a Shared Purpose
Organizing a Team
Engaging Others’ Talents
Direct lessons help students to not only know the general idea of the 7 Habits, but to be able to understand and apply the key concepts within them. When students are engaged in their own learning process, they are able to internalize and exercise their leadership potential. This internalization enables them to think critically about their choices and their studies, apply the 7 Habits in day-to-day situations, and move to the application, evaluation, and synthesis levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Just as core subjects like math and English are often reviewed at the beginning of each new school year, leadership content should also be reviewed with this kind of frequency to allow for advanced, grade-level understanding and application. When staff and students have a common knowledge and a common language, leadership in the classroom and throughout the school starts to grow.
By providing defining, purposeful examples of leadership, students begin to shift from theoretical understanding to real-life application. A conscious, persistent effort to introduce leadership principles in every part of a learning community ensures students are being impacted in a truly transformative way.
Key concepts of the 7 Habits can be integrated into just about any subject or activity l. And this learning can occur at any time or anywhere—during class lessons, assemblies, morning announcements, or family nights. When leadership principles are woven into lessons, activities, and day-to-day interactions, leadership becomes a way of living and learning, not just another topic to be taught.
When leadership is routinely modeled by staff, students are able to see true leadership in action. This helps students to better understand, apply, and think critically about leadership, especially as it relates to their own habits and behaviors. And while teachers are key in ensuring students see good examples of leadership, it’s a schoolwide effort. As every adult models the 7 Habits, no matter their role, they create a culture of leadership while also reaping personal benefits as they discover new ways of interacting with students, families, and each other.
By modeling the language and key concepts of the 7 Habits, educators, staff, and administrators teach students that these concepts can be used in school, at work, with friends, and with colleagues.
As students share the 7 Habits and leadership principles at home, family members take part of the same uplifting leadership culture. As parents, guardians, and siblings become familiar with these habits, families can expand their role in their local learning communities.
Sharing what they learn is imperative for students striving to practice the principles they’re learning at school. By allowing them to step into the role of teacher within their own family unit, students become empowered to learn in new ways that maximize their understanding and application of practical, life-preparing leadership content.
Leadership roles give students an opportunity to know and practice real responsibility, rather than merely discussing this important principle as a theoretical future choice. Purposeful leadership roles teach students that being a leader means being a contributor, and allows students to feel regular success as they add value to their classrooms, schools, families, and communities. And when leadership roles mature alongside students, they help them cultivate a unique voice, practice making choices with consequences, and uncover their inner motivation for finding success.
Schools should be places that communicate student worth and potential. When leadership is shared with students, it provides opportunities for everyone to develop a strong sense of self-efficacy, making children and young teens better equipped to deal with challenges.
When students have a voice in their learning community, they are given regular opportunities to offer authentic input to their teachers, staff, and administrators. Systems that encourage this kind of dynamic synergy also ensure that student voices are consistent and integral parts of the school. When shared leadership includes student voices, a partnership of mutual respect and ownership of the school community is cultivated.
Sharing responsibilities with students is one level of student leadership. Utilizing student voice is an even higher one. But the highest level of student leadership is helping them find their driving passion and ways to tap into their inner potential—helping them find their voice and define a unique, student-led leadership culture within their school.
The Student Lighthouse Teams are important elements that ensure sustained excellence over time. Together with teacher and staff-comprised Lighthouse Teams, they provide input and ideas for the direction of projects and events, as well as innovate with their teachers and administrators to create and implement new ideas for continued greatness. When shared leadership includes students, synergy becomes the driving force behind innovative ideas, dynamic engagement, and a strong leadership culture.
A tremendous amount of data is tracked and recorded in elementary and secondary communities; however, most of this data is not shared with the people who created it—the students. Leadership Notebooks allow students to keep the information that is important to them in a familiar format and engage with it regularly as they strive to do better in their academic and leadership activities. A Leadership Notebook provides a place for students to keep their mission statement, information about the 7 Habits, and personal reflections and highlights, while also helping them track their academic data set goals and consistently track their progress, giving them the ability to “course-correct” at any time. By tracking progress, students learn to identify personal patterns both positive and negative and how to use this knowledge as they develop new goals.
Leadership Notebooks also allow students to see growth over time. By interacting with their personal data in this way, they gain insightful knowledge of themselves as learners, reinforce a growth mindset, increase their confidence, and develop a sense of ownership for their education.
While leadership is practiced individually, its effects are anything but solitary. Leadership Events allow students to showcase their leadership skills and potential with speeches, songs, and skits. In Leader in Me Schools, Family and Community Leadership Events strengthen the leadership culture by making learning public and allowing students to develop, practice, and demonstrate their leadership skills. Classroom Leadership Events build a feeling of community, establish a common vision, and build trust through regular events like class meetings where students take turns leading discussions, planning projects, practicing public speaking, or teaching 7 Habits and Leader in Me principles and practices to their peers. When students have public opportunities tell their own learning story, share their voice, and cultivate a community that lifts themselves and others, they discover and understand their strengths, challenges, interests, and learning preferences. This builds a strong sense of self-efficacy and the confidence to take on more of a leadership role in their learning–and beyond.