Often, when I tell people I teach grade 8 they often give me a reaction like “oh good luck” or “yikes, how do you do it” or my favorite “well I wouldn’t want your job“… and my reaction is usually “I love mine, my kids are great“.
The reality is that students who are around the ages of 11-14 have a bad stigma attached to them in our world (for some weird reason). I have been thinking about why these brilliant and creative minds in my classroom are seen in our society somehow as threatening or juvenile, and I know that definitely our adolescent years are the times that we make mistakes, fail, try again and they are most likely going to experience those things, but why they are so feared is beyond me.
I was also thinking the last little while how as a society we could put more responsibility on our youth to be the centers of change and come out as the heroic people I know them to be. If you look in the United States right now, youth are leading the charge to change gun violence laws… brilliant!
How can we as teachers continue to foster this type of movement and create students who are willing to take the plunge?
My solution… Student Leadership
I’m not talking necessarily about a leadership team (which is also awesome and essential), I am talking about individual responsibility and accountability on each student beyond academics to be an inner leader.
I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about creating a class mission statement for your classroom, which is essentially a set of principals that you build your class off of. By implementing this, I have seen a big change in my grade 8’s taking ownership of their actions.
Although we are still trying to figure out how to instill student accountability into every student here are 2 awesome things that have helped so far.
- Create a school APP.
I got this idea from an awesome conference I attended when a high school, in a rural community in our province talked about their successes with a school APP and unifying their student body. When I saw their presentation, I thought… we can totally do this.
So what did I do…. I googled ‘how to build an APP’ and created our own school APP. It has been awesome! All social media accounts are linked, student announcements, bulletins, updates… and it is an awesome way to make students accountable AND create positive school spirit.
If your school doesn’t have an APP… its needed.
- Student led assembly’s (ENTIRE student ran)
We felt that our students needed a greater voice and representation within out walls. Instead of religious celebrations or sports based pep rally’s, we needed a way for EVERY student to be represented.
We gave them the task of creating their own assembly and then stepped back and waited to see what they created.
And it was brilliant!
Giving students the voice and choice to represent what they choose in an assembly is a great initiative.
These two things are not difficult to achieve within a school, and perhaps you have a few of your own. BUT student leadership is necessary to success.
Have a great week!