Teachers were introduced to the new leadership focus during a special in-service. Bradley County students also got a taste of leadership as they helped Supervisor for Elementary Education Sheena Newman welcome teachers with a “red carpet walk” and VIP ribbons at the Bradley Central High School Fine Arts Center.
Every elementary school was represented among the 50 students who participated in welcoming the teachers. The theme for the day in the student tribute to teachers was “You Matter.” Students also walked across the stage carrying signs expressing their thankfulness to the teachers.
Part of the leadership focus is to have students more involved in the classroom and school assemblies.
“The idea is, as you go throughout the year any event can be a leadership event,” Newman said.
This month the leadership program will roll out with teachers completing student interest inventories. These inventories will give teachers an idea about what leadership roles would be good for students in the classroom, according to Donna Yost, an instructional coach at Michigan Avenue Elementary.
In September, teachers will begin working with students to develop academic and personal goals.
Those who had piloted the program last year outlined the leadership component in detail to teachers.
Tara Snider, a fifth-grade teacher at Taylor Elementary, was one of the teachers who piloted “Leaders for Life: Voyage to Greatness” last school year.
The component that stood out most to Snider was students writing a class mission statement.
She said she begins the school year by telling her students what will be expected of them and asking what they are expecting the new school year to be like.
“That first day, or that first couple of days ... lays the foundation for the mission statement that they are going to write,“ Snider said.
She said the mission statement became a promise from the students to each other and to her about how they will behave. Students recited the mission statement each morning.
Snider said sometimes she would ask students if they were living up to the promise they had made that morning.
“It was profound,” Snider said.
Students in Snider’s class even developed motions to accompany the promise.
Writing the mission statement was spread across a week with students working a little each day in groups and then combining the common ideas. Snider said her only contribution was to suggest adding something about going confidently into middle school.
“All I did was type — they were pulling out thesauruses themselves,” Snider said.
Laura Anziano, fifth-grade teacher at Charleston Elementary School, explained how she had given leadership roles to students.
These leadership roles go beyond simply jobs in the classroom that usually rotate on a weekly or daily basis. She said leadership roles need to be kept for longer than that.
“I just try to get to know them really well the first week, then I can figure out what leadership role they might be good for,” Anziano said.
She said the students also had good ideas about leadership roles that would be good to have in the classroom.
Newman suggested teachers have a student join them in greeting the students in the morning.
Yost explained the role of the data notebooks in the leadership focus.
The notebooks are a way to keep track of attendance, student goals and classwork of which they are especially proud.