Student leadership

Thinking Outside the Box with Student Leadership

Guest post by Clint Williams 

Skyridge Middle School’s Associated Student Body (ASB) program is an active organization that makes our school a great place to be. Our student leaders organize school celebrations and spirit weeks, plan assemblies and recognition luncheons, mentor our sixth-grade students, and much more. They are the face of our school and our best ambassadors. But there is one big problem with ASB: It is so popular that we have to turn away a large number of students each year who want to become leaders, because space is limited. I realize this is a great problem to have, but it is a challenge, nonetheless. What can we do to provide students more ways to get involved and lead?  (more…)

Every Student Matters

Guest post by John C. Bartlett

When I woke up the morning after Election Day, my to-do list had a new priority: a visit to my English language learner classroom and a conversation with our 50 students who were getting their first taste of American democracy at work. What did these students want and need from me and their teachers? These students wanted to know that they matter, that someone cared about them, and that they were safe. Essentially, they wanted to know what every student needs to know when they walk through the front door of our schools every day. (more…)

Student Voice: Empowering the Student Learner

Guest post by Ted Huff

Within our educational system, and at the heart of all that we do, exists the proverbial “student desk.” In that seat rests the most powerful, engaging, and often untapped school resource. By taking and making time to include student perspective and voice within the academic, social, and behavioral facets of the school day, you will witness increased student engagement, greater student buy-in, and decreased behavior concerns.

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Student Voice: Beyond the School Walls

Guest post by Archie Weindruch and James Gomez, seniors, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, IA. Archie and James are active in Raising Student Voice and Participation, an NASSP student program.

Over the past four years at Bettendorf High School, we have seen the importance of student voice and student leadership within schools and communities. We have seen the student body bring forth refreshing and new ideas for our school, and we have seen these ideas come to fruition right before our eyes. This is one of the most exciting parts about the organization that we have here at Bettendorf High School called RSVP, or Raising Student Voice and Participation. (more…)

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: A Senior’s Perspective on Leadership

Guest post by Hannah Chin, senior, Bettendorf High School, Bettendorf, IA. Hannah is an active member of Raising Student Voice and Participation, an NASSP student program.

I strongly believe that the biggest mistake students make is not becoming involved in leadership organizations as they go through school.

Although there were opportunities for leadership in middle school, I never sought them out. Believing that my voice would not matter and lacking a bit of confidence, I opted to sit out of organizations where I could make a difference for my school or community. (more…)

Re-Framing the Narrative

Guest post by Michael Hannon:

It can be easy to overlook specific student populations when the overall student body seems to be doing well. When important metrics have met yearly progress goals, college-going rates are high, and the local National Honor Society chapter has an awesome incoming cohort, it warrants appropriate acknowledgement and celebration. That celebration cannot happen in lieu of school leaders taking steps to more deeply understand the students who may NOT be meeting yearly progress goals, who may NOT be confident in their post-secondary career or educational plans, or who may NOT be eligible for National Honor Society. It’s even more disconcerting if or when those students generally align to a certain racial or ethnic profile.

Many African-American and Latino male students confront educational challenges that school leaders can take an active role in addressing, mitigating, and hopefully eliminating in their school communities. Some of those challenges include overrepresentation in special education, underrepresentation in student leadership/extracurricular activities, overrepresentation in disciplinary referrals, and underrepresentation in honors and/or advanced placement courses. One important question for principals and other school leaders is: “What are we doing about these trends?”

Supporting African-American and Latino male students has been especially rewarding in my career as an educator. The opportunity to engage with them as their counselor is filled with moments of extreme satisfaction, and, at times, significant challenge. Making connections while visiting classes, conferencing with parents, and facilitating student-teacher meetings to clarify misunderstandings have all been par for the course as a high school counselor. This work, OUR work, is not for the faint of heart. School leaders, especially those in principal, assistant principal, and supervisor roles, assume the mantle of leadership to facilitate the educational success of ALL students, including those who are most vulnerable.

One of the best pieces of advice a principal mentor shared with me as a school counselor was to treat every students as if he or she were my own. That is, if a student is acting inappropriately, I should address him or her with the same concern (and intensity) I would if he or she was my own child. If a student isn’t taking advantage of opportunities, I should support him or her in identifying and experiencing those opportunities the same way I would if he or she was my own child.

The Narratives of Success session at Ignite’14 in Dallas will help school leaders gain insight into what over 400 African-American and Latino male students report are the most supportive educational practices and attitudes by school leaders that help them be successful in high school. Their reflections are thoughtful, timely, and noteworthy. I’m excited—and I hope you are, too.

Michael Hannon (@mdhannon) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of School Psychology, Counseling, and Leadership at Brooklyn College. He will be presenting Narratives of Success: School Leadership Implications from the NYC Black & Latino Male Achievement at Ignite ’14 on Saturday, February 8.