The Student Leader
By: Mary Kienstra on: March 1, 2016 in: Engagement, student leader
This year I started a job chart, something I have never done in the past. I never had an interest in having students in charge of mundane jobs in the class. It was always easier to do those routine jobs myself. After I visited Paul Solarz’s classroom and read his book, Learn Like a Pirate, I realized it might be time to try student jobs. For my students to realize the importance of my job chart, the jobs would need to have real value to them and not be the dull and boring classroom jobs. One of our new and important classroom jobs is the student leader.
Spring is the time in the school year when we reap the benefits of establishing meaningful rituals earlier in the year. Since I loop with my students each year (teaching gifted math in a pull out model to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders), I model those rituals over and over so that the kids can take ownership when they are ready. I’ve even asked my students such questions as “Who knows what I’m going to ask next?” I am deliberate in my teaching so that they learn which questions need to be asked and when to ask them. Of course they also add their own ideas to the lessons too.
These days the student leader has taken over my class. During certain times of the class, I sit back and allow the students to lead the learning, ask the questions, and be in charge. The kids look forward to their week as the student leader and know exactly what that entails.
As I give more and more control to my students, they take on more and more responsibility. They not only own their learning, they also facilitate the learning. I am always so impressed by the way each student leads and the ways that their classmates respect them as leaders. The student leaders always facilitate lessons such as our weekly Kakooma Challenge and Weight Logic Algebra games and are ready to step in and lead any other lessons too.
I’ve learned that the kids need opportunities to lead and that they are much more capable than we might ever believe. Giving the kids the responsibility to lead the class helps them to own their learning and take it seriously. I know that my class will definitely use student leaders again next year and I wonder why it took me so long to realize that.