An Effective STEM Classroom always has Leadership- and not necessarily from the teacher. In a STEM classroom, the teacher is a special kind of leader whose job it is to facilitate the learning.
(When I was in the classroom, I always used to say that it was my job to get everyone what they needed and made sure they got where they were going.)
But, in this case, I’m talking about student leadership. STEM is all about encouraging students to drive their own learning, but in order to do that, students need to learn how to lead, so that they can be effective in leading themselves or their project team.
So what “makes” a leader and how do you cultivate leaders in your classroom? According to Inc., there are 9 traits that define great leadership. Among them are traits that we can naturally encourage in classrooms:
Accountability- It is usually put on the teacher to hold everyone accountable, but why shouldn’t students hold themselves and others accountable? On high-performing teams, it is the team members who hold each other accountable.
Confidence- Leaders are confident (not ego-driven) and their confidence is contagious. Not only that, kids (and adults too) are commonly drawn towards people who are confident.
Honesty- I loved seeing this on the list! Great leaders understand that in order to be successful, they need to treat others how they want to be treated and show empathy (another trait on the list) to others.
Optimism- Being able to be positive when working with a team can be priceless. Great leaders see the importance of inspiring (another trait on the list) and reassuring teammates to keep the ideas flowing.
Focus- Focus is defined as planning and organization, which are great traits to have regardless if you are inside the classroom or not. Students who have focus are able to make contingency plans quickly and think through many different scenarios.
By encouraging leaders in our classroom, we motivate students to be successful and take charge of their learning!