It’s National Youth Leadership Month this month, which means we’re taking a week to highlight the importance of leadership development in schools! Preparing students to responsibly lead and work with others is a crucial and oftentimes overlooked aspect of education; thankfully, though, helping students build these skills can be quite straightforward. Here are our three favorite tips to do so:
#1: Lead By Example
Demonstrating the leadership traits you want students to embody themselves as their teacher is perhaps the most important thing educators can do for up-and-coming leaders. Though they might not always be cognizant of it, youth are constantly ingesting lessons about what it means to “be in charge” from those who are in charge of them, so it can be so valuable to be the most stellare example that you can be for them. My personal rule is that if I catch myself doing something I wouldn’t want my students doing, then I should make a different choice and communicate to them my mistake.
#2: Start Small
Helping students become better leaders doesn’t have to start with intensive lessons or responsibility-heavy roles, it can begin with small tasks all around the classroom. Giving youth a chance to be in charge of a class chore or mentor a peer who needs a little extra help “gets the leadership gears turning” without forcing them into stressful and miseducative situations. If the only situations students practice leadership in are public speaking and managing important group projects, the idea of leadership can quickly take on a negative connotation, so find little ways to engage leaders-to-be throughout the school year.
#3: Focus on SEL