Every Friday morning before recess, I select a popsicle stick with a student's name on it, and that child becomes our Student Leader for the following week. This ritual has become a class favorite, and the kids love having the opportunity to perform the various responsibilities of the job, such as leading our morning movement warm-up routine and standing at the door after recess, lunch, and P.E. to greet everyone as they enter the room. I think it's important for children to have meaningful opportunities to develop leadership skills, and I also appreciate the fact that choosing a weekly Student Leader allows kids to have their turn in the spotlight. I set aside a bulletin board in the corner of the room for a certificate and invite each Student Leader to post photographs of family members, friends, trips, and other activities so we can get to know that child on a more personal level.
This past week my students and I found a new way to make the week even more special for the Student Leader. It all started when I picked the stick of a child we will call Tracy, who wears a flower in her hair each day to school. Before I excused the class for recess, I jokingly said that everybody's homework over the weekend was to find a flower and wear it in their hair on Monday as a tribute to Tracy's student leadership.
Sure enough, the following Monday, five kids arrived at school with flowers in their hair. When Tracy saw this, she was absolutely beaming. I made a big deal out of this during our morning circle, and even more kids started wearing flowers in their hair for the rest of the week. Our class mission statement includes a sentence that says we want to go beyond the expectations of a typical 4th grade classroom. I explained that if we could find a way to honor our Student Leader each week, we could make that person feel extra special, and it would definitely be a way for us to surpass typical expectations.
Yesterday, I chose a stick, and as a class, we brainstormed ways we could honor the young man who had just been chosen. We came up with ideas such as wearing blue shirts (because he said he liked wearing blue shirts) and doing something to acknowledge his love of reading and volleyball. It will be interesting what the kids come up with. I'm hoping to keep this idea alive throughout the year because it has such potential to strengthen our teamwork and give everyone the type of individual attention that makes us feel unique and special.