Last week I talked about the importance of equipping our youth to become tomorrow’s leaders and the responsibility we carry to show the way for the next generation. In case you missed it, you can catch part 1 by clicking here.
As a middle school teacher, I take great pride in knowing that every moment spent with my students is an opportunity I have to shape them into the leaders I know they desire to be. But even those of us who are not in the teaching profession have an ability to have a profound impact on our children and other young people. Here are a few ways we can do so…
Firstly, we should encourage group work and group collaboration; it is through this that our young leaders can see the perspectives of others. This is where young leaders can truly hone their leadership skills and practice what it is like to take charge. This also ties into another important part of building a good young leader: giving young leaders a chance to practice their decision-making skills.
Even if it’s as simple as asking them what they think about certain issues or certain topics, we are giving our young leaders a chance to express themselves. Through this practice, it’s also key when helping young leaders develop their voice. What are they passionate about? What do they want to invest their time into? When I teach the Bill of Rights during our Constitution unit, we spend a lot of time talking about our right to freedom of speech and the right to petition the government. Some of my students even created a petition at the end of last year to change the temperature of the water fountain outside my classroom! Instead of being negative about the idea, I let the students run with their idea and they ultimately passed it on to our administration!
In addition, we should help our young leaders develop a strong work ethic from an early age. Whether that giving our young leaders tasks around the house, giving them the opportunity to start a small business like a lemonade stand, or volunteering their time into a community service project, young leaders need to experience the successes and failures of hard work. It is so important for our young leaders to see the value of hard work.
Lastly, teaching our young leaders the importance of optimistic thinking is key. In this day and age, it’s actually refreshing when you meet someone who has a positive attitude; the way you look at things can get you very far. In my mind, a good leader is someone who has the ability to see the good in not only themselves but in others around them. We must encourage our children to practice positive self-talk and model optimistic thinking and behaviors as well. Our young leaders are always watching!
I constantly remind my students they should be the type of leader that others want to follow—simple as that.
Teresa Florindi is a full time Social Studies teacher in Port Chester, NY. When she is not instilling her passion about American History to her 7th graders, she enjoys traveling with her fiancé. She also spends her spare time teaching group exercise and indoor cycling at her local YMCA.