Next Steps to Classroom Leadership

Look Differently - Take A Risk!-2

So often, the topic of classroom management dominates our conversation as the cornerstone of a productive learning environment. Speaking frankly – without classroom management, a learning environment could never fully realize maximum learning potential. But, is classroom management where the road stops?

Classroom leadership encapsulates a growth mindset required to foster an optimal learning environment. It’s easy to isolate the words: management and leadership, and become persuaded by the obvious embedded within the definitions. Although the differences are obvious on a surface level, the depth of this difference yields positive, actionable, “classroom culture”-based results.

I was first exposed to this underdeveloped layer of classroom environments by George Couros  in 2012 – based on the premise that inspiration to learn should be at core of the classroom. As a teacher, I thought, how do I design leadership and ownership of learning for my students? Taking this idea steps further, I’d like to highlight some practical next steps to engage the dormant layer of leadership that may lie within your classroom or within the classroom of another educator.

  1. Let Go and Let Students – Design opportunities that require less of your voice, input, and opinions, and instead, opportunities that ensure student-level influence.
    • Self Reflection: Why are you (the educator) leading the Q & A for the class? Why do students hear your voice more than theirs? Why do students get away with “I don’t know” in your class?
    • How?: Set expectations and train classroom facilitators for systematic, routine experiences in your class; Ask more questions and wait longer for students to respond (learn to love the awkward silence); Allow students to struggle with unknown content with the digital support of Google (train them how to use Google appropriately).
  2. Classes That Design Together, Stay Together – Bring students to the learning and assessment design tables, and work together to create authentic buy-in.
    • Self Reflection: When is the last time you listened to and incorporated your students’ opinions for their learning? Why are you creating engaging experiences for students without your students?  Will students say that they see themselves reflected in your lesson planning?
    • How?: Give students real Voice and real Choice (click to see blog post);  Partner with students to design the assessment; Get honest student feedback about an assessment.
  3. Never Settle for Less Than Ownership – Always reinforce that depth of learning lies only within the student’s control.
    • Self Reflection:  Would your students say that you are fair, equitable, and appropriate? Why do you accept a zero for work you deemed important enough to assign? Is the student’s lack of effort worth more than your learning expectation? When the students are asked, why does what they are learning matter, what do they say?  How do students know how to learn in your class?
    • How?: Teach learners how to ‘do learning’ in your class; Hold them accountable for learning (don’t just accept a zero); Continuously remind them of “the why”; Reinforce desired behavior; Set and expect leadership attributes from each student; Allow students to learn at different levels – even though it may require a bit more effort from you; Bring parents into the loop on the first onset of concern (parents are the best and most effective partners).

Reflect and try one of these. Share your thoughts about classroom leadership with me, por favor. Seek additional ways to foster inspiration in your class that help students have leadership, buy-in, and ownership of their learning. This is classroom leadership!

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