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Students Develop Leadership Skills When Leading Classroom Discussions
Today’s students have options when it comes to learning leadership skills. A traditional classroom puts the teacher in front of the students, asking questions on a certain topic, then calling on raised hands to get answers. But how does it work when teacher takes a backseat, gives ownership of not only the topic, but the discussion and exchange of ideas to the students?
This student-led approach emphasizes student inquiry, imagination, and collaboration. Students begin reading up on topics to be discussed, further fueling the process, as well as making the experience more student-centric with the opportunity for greater ownership of learning.
Once students collaborate to arrive at what topic they want to discuss, the next step is to focus on one essential question, even one that could have polarizing responses. Given an agreed upon timeframe, students do their research using materials on hand or in the classroom or online and construct a series of possible answers.
Then comes the time for self-regulation, when the elected student who leads the discussion kicks off the exercise. The teacher is present, but doesn’t participate in the discussion. At the end, however, a reflection or assessment is suggested as to what part of the process worked best; what part could be better.
Another approach is when the teacher asks students to write a question about what they read or what they did the night before. A call for volunteers puts students in the lead to discuss their question and ask for input from the rest of the class. A 10-minute time frame usually gives everyone a chance to be heard. Sometimes it takes more than one class period.
This next approach invites student to post a question about a predetermined topic to the class website followed up with an answer or response of what they found interesting, problematic, or a pattern they identified and what that pattern might imply.
Then students can respond to posts of one or two peers, sharing a thought or question or perhaps a new idea posed by a classmate. This creates a great basis for a class discussion that can be headed up by a student.
Often these exercises reveal enlightening questions that help students think more critically about what they’re reading and a better understanding of the intent of the author. These methods also empower students with more ownership over what they learn in class having arrived at the answers on their own.
Students thrive intellectually in student-led endeavors such as these. At Yorktown Education, we believe a student-centric environment offers greater access to self-discovery and leadership skills. When students discover what they love to do, it ignites a passion for learning and an incentive to follow a focused, passion-fueled path.