Students at Weslaco Independent School District are changing the way leadership is looked at. Elementary and middle schools have been participating in The Leader in Me, an evidence-based, comprehensive school improvement model that empowers students with the leadership and life skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.
Instead of focusing on academic measures alone, Leader in Me embodies a holistic approach to education, redefining how schools measure success. This approach empowers educators with effective practices and tools to:
- teach leadership to every student,
- create a culture of student empowerment,
- and align systems to drive results in academics.
Many students will enter the global workforce without the life skills needed to navigate an increasingly complex and globally interconnected world. With implementation of Leader in Me, students can:
- think ahead about consequences/choices before acting
- understand how goal setting applies at school and in one’s personal life
- and set clear expectations for themselves and others.
Selina Martinez, Pre-K teacher at Memorial Elementary, says that Leader in Me has improved her personal experiences as an educator.
“I run my classroom differently, using the 7 Habits myself. It’s caused my classroom to run more productively and effectively and I believe it’s helped me become a better teacher,” she said. “It’s integrated in everything we do. Students hold accountability even at the age of 4 for their emotions, behaviors, and how they treat others. I feel I’m molding my students to be good citizens in our community.”
Social and emotional behaviors include management of emotions, social behavior, and classroom behavior. After seven weeks of Leader in Me training, Pre-K students receive
- 33 percent increase in independent social/emotional behaviors and
- 41 percent increase in interdependent social/emotional behaviors
Equity From the Inside-Out: The Leader in Me Approach
Over half of our nation’s K-12 students now come from low-income households. Ensuring equity in education is essential to the future of our nation.
Contributors to the Equity Gap in Education include:
How Leader in Me addresses the Equity Gap in Education
Students deeply learn social and emotional teachings through classroom and schoolwide leadership opportunities. In this positive school culture, students are empowered to apply their social and emotional learned skills and lead their own learning through:
- enlisting social resources
- developing experience-based self-confidence
A study conducted in predominantly low-income schools found students proficient in using the 7 Habits Social and Emotional learning skills were far more likely to be at benchmark in English Language Arts state exams than their non-proficient peers.
In a regional study, students who attended a Leader in Me middle school were more likely to be on time and have a higher GPA in high school than those who did not attend Leader in Me campus.
“I love that students are responsible for tracking their progress and success. Each student understands that they each have their unique strengths, but it is the progress and growth that makes them proud,” said Leticia Flores, fourth-grade teacher at Weslaco ISD. “I often have students that have graduated and come back to visit me. To hear their successes and see that they have continued to use the principles of the Leader in Me shows that these are life-changing skills that mold a student for success.”
If you’d like to find out more about how to become a Leader in Me school, visit www.leaderinme.org/.
What lessons have you carried on with you after getting your education? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.