I recently posted the following message for all my lovely readers on the Art Lessons for Kids Facebook page:
“I subbed yesterday at my son’s school in a grade one class. One little girl was crying for a while and the classroom teacher told me before she left that this was a common behavior that came and went throughout the year. She slept for a while in the reading area and when I woke her up, I asked her if she could be my ‘special helper’ for the day and be the leader of the day. She instantly perked up, smiled and took over! She was essentially my go to person and made sure everyone was on task! Empower your students, especially the shy ones and the ones who feel less artsy or even your trouble makers. Let these students shine in other creative ways so they feel their worth in your classroom. Let these students be artwork collectors, table leaders, information leader, classroom go to leader, etc… And you might be surprised they’ll start improving in all other areas. By doing this, you are sending the message that you care and that you know they exist! “
Notice the word ‘leader’. So many times when I have let my students take the lead, I am blown away at what they can do. All it takes is a chance and the opportunity. Our relationship no longer becomes the top down teacher-students one. It becomes a two way partnership and this is when the magic begins.
After writing the short FB post and reading the comments,I started thinking of the other ways that I let my students take on leadership roles. Feel free to try any or all with your own students and kids and if you have other great ideas that work for you, please share them here or on the FB page so others can be inspired too.
Ways You can Help Your Students Become and Feel Like Leaders
1. Create a list of jobs and roles your students can have in your classroom or home and attach the word leader to the end whenever possible to start getting kids used to this term and start realizing that they too can be leaders at their age. These roles can range from giving out paper or art materials (organizational leader), table leader, classroom greeter, motivational leader (lets other kids know they are doing a great job, has a nice comment for each student and their work, etc), time management leader, etc..
2. Rotate the jobs and keep track of who does what so everyone gets a turn. For bigger roles that you have, why not announce them and have your students apply for them with a letter explaining why they want the job and the qualities they have that will help them be a successful leader in this position. If you have time, set up some interviews too. Roles that involve planning and presenting an art show, art decor for a presentation, hallways displays, etc.. are perfect for this.
3. Allow each student or a group of 2-3 students teach an art class (do this once a month). This is an activity my students love and really take seriously. Whoever has to present the lesson has to come up with a lesson plan and materials and give it to me a couple of days before the lesson so that we can get the materials ready. The student(s) teach the lesson to all of us, INCLUDING ME, and then walk around the room helping the rest of the kids with the project. At the end of the lesson, we all sit around and give positive comments about the lesson and our teacher leaders. The art lesson leaders also get the chance to give their comments and praise fellow classmates. You will the love it when they comment on your participation and work too!
4. Art shows and displays are a great way to recruit leaders and allow for the students to take ownership. Establish some parameters, give out jobs and TRUST your students. For art shows I have jobs like Design Leaders ( together we decide the look and feel of the displays, where artwork will go, etc), public relations leaders (making posters and spreading the word about the event), etc. As I mentioned earlier, try and hold interviews for these roles.
5. When a student’s turn at a role is over, let them interview and choose the next leader. You’ll be amazed how kids can do this really well. They are so good at picking the right people for the right job. There is no age restriction for this either. TRUST your kids, you will be blown away!
Give all your students the opportunity to be a leader especially the shy ones, no so confident ones and the troublemakers. If a student is shy, let them be the leader of the day, go to leader, etc.. Give these student a BIG role and you’ll see how they change. The same goes with the less confident and less artsy students. For the trouble makers, give them the noise control leader or time management leader role and watch how that student will change their attitude in no time.
I am sure there are so many more ways you can think of to empower your students to be amazing and feel like the leaders they have the potential to be. You will also be teaching them valuable skills that will help them throughout their school life.
Be the change my lovely readers and or should I say, my lovely leaders
Have a great weekend!