One of our School Board Members approached me last winter with information about a school district in Iowa who was implementing Stephen Covey's The Leader In Me. Several weeks later, I started visiting with our school counselor, Cindi Burggraaf, with initial ideas. Mrs. Burggraaf's smile grew as I talked. She shared that she had just purchased the same book. Throughout the following weeks, we started seeing the potential that these concepts could have for our students.
A small group of teachers, Mrs. Burgraff, and I visited Muscatine schools in May to see the model in practice. Teachers' excitement grew when we visited several elementary buildings and saw “The 7 Habits" being implemented at the elementary level. At each building we experienced a student–centered, often student-led, assembly. We visited classrooms, toured the buildings, engaged with students as they explained their work, and asked questions to a student–staff panel about implementing The Leader In Me at their schools.
Several teachers at Libertyville and Washington elementary schools read the book and participated in conversations throughout the summer. We looked at how The Leader In Me meshes with concepts from Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions (PBIS). Their excitement and creative thought about "The 7 Habits" carried us through the summer and into the fall.
My initial hopes for this year were to build capacity within the staff regarding "The 7 Habits," to look at connections with PBIS, and to tap into immense creative power within our staff to design a program that is just right for our students. As we complete the first month of school, I can't help but smile in admiration of the zeal and creative power of our teachers. As I walk in the hallways at Libertyville and Washington I see, hear, and feel the 7 Habits permeating the environment.
Two of the initial routines we implemented are the daily “The Leader Pledge,” and “Leader Tickets.” Each morning two students lead the building in saying The Pledge of Allegiance, The Leader Pledge, and by reading the lunch menu. The Leader Pledge is:
I visited a first grade classroom during the morning announcements last week. As the students recited The Leader Pledge, I heard the substitute teacher quietly say, “Oh wow. How neat.” I smiled to myself and thought, “Welcome to our building full of little leaders.”
We morphed our Friday Good Kid Tickets/STAR Tickets into our new Leader Tickets. As staff members see students demonstrating one of the 7 Habits, they give the child a Leader Ticket. The child then brings the ticket to the office and places it in the bucket for the drawing which is held each Friday. The building secretaries, anyone in the office, and any adult who sees the child proudly walking down the hallway with their ticket in hand, takes time to congratulate the child and build them up for being a leader. The following videos were created from last week's drawings.
Welcome to our journey! We know we are at the beginning, but we have started the race strong.