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Leadership Insights

Strong Schools, Strong School Leadership

By The Room 241 Team October 22, 2012

Just as the local Sheriff’s office depends on its Chamber of Commerce or Neighborhood Watch patrols, individual schools could benefit from a group of school leadership students to assist in the strength of the school by serving as classroom principals.

A classroom principal is not a “teacher’s pet.” A classroom principal is simply one of a school’s many leadership students who can help impart better behavior through their own example and by reaching out to less fortunate or struggling students who may need help.

Technology has changed a school’s environment over the years. While many schools are fortunate enough to utilize advanced teaching methods, superior labs and digital assistants like the Internet in the classroom, technology also poses a challenge to schools with the advent of internet bullies and digital distractions like smart phones. With the end to corporal punishment and the abundant lack of respect for authority present in schools, the behavior of some students have caused teachers to give up, rebel, or even go on strike due to students’ bad behavior.

When there is a situation where it’s “the teacher against the students,” a classroom principal could be useful. School leadership students who possess non-aggressive, charismatic traits can influence others and help make them more manageable in the classroom. They can even coach them and train them to become mentors as well. When teachers have to deal with problem students and bullies, it wastes the time of those students who desire to learn and come to class with the intent on gaining knowledge. School leadership students can influence  problematic students to become classroom principals and serve as role models rather than distractions.  This can help give these students a sense of belonging and purpose and it might even help curb their otherwise disruptive behavior.

How a classroom principal can help

What might a classroom principal do to affect the overall strength of the school and the power of learning in the classroom? A classroom principal’s role is one of facilitation and modeling behavior. Consider an “Aspiring School Leadership Student Group,” Not “Detention!”

Instead of collecting an alliance of detention problem students, schools could coral the same students but with a different reason for staying after school—to share what they know or want to know about leadership. In this setting these students can share positive aspects about leadership. Students in the Aspiring School Leadership Student Group are not monitored or visited by the school principal or a teacher of any sort. They aren’t made to write sentences, sit in the corner, or given extra homework to do. They are there to discuss leadership. Using these techniques, the school will see a new crop of leaders bloom and they will bring with them a new desire to learn. Many will even become school leadership students themselves.

But, what should a school do about bullies? In a school that hopes to foster more school leadership students, bullies are expelled.  In fact, 45 states have passed  zero tolerance bullying laws. Amazingly, studies show it took a zero tolerance policy to open the eyes of many students who might have otherwise been role model students to begin with.

When schools have mentors training mentors, allowing them to create their own initiatives for learning, schools are empowering those who may have felt previously powerless. Many school bullies are really screaming for help, and most are intelligent and able to channel their bullying energies toward helping others if properly mentored and this is why a trained classroom principal would be of service to school bullies.

Overall, a school that creates a classroom principal program and teaches mentoring could see an improvement in discipline if they empower school leadership students to assist in the strength of the school and the integrity of its student body.

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