Can we stay in for recess?

Growing up in Nova Scotia, I distinctly remember asking that question. In winter, I would volunteer to clean the boards (blackboards, that is) or laminate, just to avoid the cold nor’ easters. In the warmer weather, we had to be cajoled back in at the end of recess.

Our students ask this question too. But, it happens year round.

This past school year one of my most recess-loving boys asked to stay in to work on his Lego robotics project for science class. He knew that the extra time testing his robot would help his team in the next competition. And, to him, it was worth it.

After visiting an outdoor education centre, a group of grade 7 girls decided to construct Save That Species, a skit, in game show format, which was regularly performed at assembly to inform their peers about endangered species in a fun and informative way. They asked to stay in to practice, arrange costumes, and construct background slides on the computer.

Others worked on presentations for younger students, creating games for their class, or tracking our Lights Out Lunch where classes are reminded to turn off the lights. Clearly, student leadership is pervasive.

During our student voice sessions in 2011/12, we asked students about leadership. We asked: What does it mean to be a leader? How do you feel that you get to be a leader at KCS? What would you add or change about student leadership at KCS?

Here’s what some of our students had to say:

‘To be a leader means that you encourage others to make positive choices, to act with empathy, to do what is right.’ Interestingly, few students thought that being a leader means the one who wins the trophy, or the one who gets to be in charge of others. They’re empowered as leaders to help others, not to overpower others. I think that is an amazing indicator of our school’s culture.

The list of ways that students were involved was extensive! Among the ways that they showed leadership: teaching younger students, peer tutoring, house captain projects, helping teachers lead clubs, coming up with new ideas for the school, picking up garbage in the park, creating new projects, and helping others with their problems.

One of my favourite quotes was from a grade one student: “I feel good whenever you (the teacher) say ‘journal time is over’ and I pick up all the pencil crayons.” It’s the little things that make a difference.

Students voiced their opinion that there should be more time dedicated to leadership. At present, there is a leadership class for grades 6, 7, and 8 students. We’ll be using every opportunity to make sure that students who want to be leaders, can be leaders. We believe that everyone can be a leader.

The teachers at KCS read about leadership this past summer. The Leader in Me, by Stephen R. Covey, talks about how students are empowered and engaged when they can be leaders. Luckily, this is not be a revolutionary idea for our school. It’s already there.

Ms. Gaudet
Citizenship Coordinator, Grade 7 History & Geography

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