In January 2016, Royal Primary Academy launched the implementation of The Leader In Me program. Students and teachers have excitedly embraced the principles of the 7 Habits. However, one question that some parents have asked is, “How is my child actually learning the 7 Habits?”
Essentially the students at RPA are learning the 7 Habits in three different ways: Direct instruction, integrated instruction, and opportunities to practice leadership skills. Following is a description of how this is actually being done.
Direct instruction refers to students learning about the 7 Habits through lessons that are directly focused on the 7 Habits. In other words, the main learning objective of a particular lesson is one or more of the 7 Habits.
Direct instruction lessons are taught by homeroom teachers 2-3 times a week. Lessons range from 20-30 minutes and often involve the use of TLIM Activity Guide. Each lesson in the Activity Guide typically focuses on one habit and offers students an opportunity to consider how they might use that habit effectively in their own lives.
Direct instruction lessons also occur outside of using the Activity Guide, as teachers aim to develop lessons that best suit our students here at RPA. For example, one lesson that can be found in the Student Workbook is about Habit 1: Be Proactive and focuses on the life of American social reformer and champion of women’s rights, Susan B. Anthony. While Susan B. Anthony’s story is inspiring, teachers may choose to teach the same objective through the use of an Indonesian heroine such as Raden Ajeng Kartini, who also proactively fought for the rights of women.
Integration in the context of education, means blending different subjects, topics, and elements of a curriculum or school program together in one lesson or unit. At RPA, this is done commonly as the IPC is an integrated curriculum, meaning that subjects such as English, Math, and Bahasa are taught in conjunction with Science and Social Studies aspects of the IPC unit, while also incorporating the IPC Personal Goals. Now that we have implemented TLIM, teachers regularly integrate the 7 Habits into their daily lessons.
An example of this is a lesson that was taught in P1A a few weeks ago. Essentially the lesson was a Reading lesson. Ms. Bethany read her students a book entitled Lemonade for Sale, which also linked in with the P1 IPC Unit: We Are What We Eat: Food. The story is about a group of friends who want to repair their treehouse, but do not have the money to do so and as a result, they decide to sell lemonade.
After reading the story, Ms. Bethany asked the students to work in groups to determine how the children in Lemonade for Sale demonstrated the 7 Habits. In order to do so, the students needed to practice various reading strategies that they had learned including making connections, retelling, asking questions, and inferring.
By using integrated instruction, students realize that the 7 Habits are a part of everyday school life, not simply isolated to a few direct instruction lesson taught during the week.
Opportunities for Practicing Leadership
Often times, lessons taught in a classroom setting are more theory than practice. In order for learning to occur at a deeper level, it is important for our students to have opportunities to practice the 7 Habits. One recent experience that RPA students had to practice one of the 7 Habits, Be Proactive, was our Earth Day activity in which students, teachers, staff, and parents cleaned-up up trash around school neighbourhood. Through this, students learned that, at times, being proactive means going out into the community and literally getting your hands dirty.
Additionally, classes have begun having Class Leadership Roles. These are opportunities for students to serve in various leadership roles within and outside of the classroom. Examples of Class Leadership Roles include: Safety Patrols, Lunch Leaders, Snack Leaders, Line Leader, and Library Leader.
Starting in the new academic year in August, we plan to offer students many more opportunities to practice leadership skills. One such opportunity will be a Student Lighthouse Team, which will be a group of students who will meet regularly to organize school events, as well as to discuss any changes they feel would make the school a better place for learning. We will also have a student led yearbook. Currently our yearbook is produced by our Marketing Team, who do a fantastic job. However, we want students to be intimately involved in creating a book of memories that captures their experience here at RPA. Students, with the help of advisors, will be responsible for determining a theme, designing the layout, taking and editing pictures and writing cations.
Next year we will also have a Service Leadership team of students and teachers, who will be responsible for finding opportunities for our school to help our surrounding community. This may involve linking with a less fortunate school, helping an orphanage or future neighbourhood clean-ups.
The Leader In Me is not meant to be a curriculum or simply an add-on to what a school already does. Instead, it is meant to transform the culture of a school community, including students, teachers, staff, leadership and parents. Our aim is for all RPA students to realize that they have the ability to be a leader right now. As Stephen Covey said, “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.”