Our 2021 student leaders have been inducted into their roles this week. During the ceremony, it was interesting to hear about what leadership means. It is a topic that I give much consideration to and it led me to think about what student leadership might look like. The following is my spin on discussions I had with people after our investiture ceremony.
1. Follow procedures. As simple as it sounds, effective leaders know that procedures are in place to avoid disorder and confusion. Good student leaders keep their priorities aligned with the school’s goal and have an appropriate sense of self.
2. Respect the authority of others. Closely related to the previous point is the recognition that we are all under the authority of someone, whether it is a student leader, teacher, principal, Board of Trustees, or whomever else. Good leaders respect organisational authority.
3. Take appropriate risks. Sometimes it is necessary for leaders to be innovative. They must be flexible enough to know when it is time to try something new.
4. Commitment. Any girl who assumes a leadership role needs to be committed to her peers. An effective leader is a girl who can commit to using her ability to lead others.
5. Be proactive. Individuals who assume leadership must independently move forward to be successful.
6. See conflict differently. Conflict among people is a natural, inevitable, and constant factor of human interaction. An effective student leader is not surprised by conflict and is able to manage it in a productive manner. Good leaders recognise that conflict can have positive outcomes if managed well. Negative conflict occurs when people are not able to differentiate between an issue and their personal investment in it. Leaders need to view issues objectively without personal bias.
7. Listen. Communication plays a vital role in the achievement of goals. Communication is a two-way process. Effective communication requires leaders capable of effective listening. First understand, then seek to be understood.
8. Respect people. Effective leaders acknowledge the value of their peers and genuinely respect them.
Students can also show academic leadership in their classroom by taking an active role in their education. They can role model positive learning skills by engaging in discussions, posing questions, displaying curiosity, collaborating with peers to solve problems, striving for accuracy in their work, and seeing mistakes as learning opportunities. By having a positive attitude to their learning, and working in partnership with their teachers and peers, students can create a culture of ownership, collaboration and community in the classroom. This culture helps develop the skills and attitudes necessary for lifelong learning, not just for themselves, but for their peers and for the wider school.
Dr John Fry
Deputy Principal - Studies