For Your Students



The quality of our future leaders depends upon the experiences we are providing for today’s children and youth. We must take this challenge seriously and create learning environments that engage minds and compel each child to reach his or her potential.

Growing Leaders is more than a program or an organizational plan. Rather it is an attitude – a way of thinking about educating the next generation. It is based upon the premise that in this century everyone will need to function as leaders – in families and communities if not in business and government.

Effective leaders must know how to follow when it is appropriate; they do not use their position to justify feelings of false superiority. Rather than wait until natural leaders begin to emerge, specific skills can be modeled and practiced in age-appropriate settings.

Neuroscience suggests that leadership skills are both innate and learned. As the genetic potential of the brain expresses itself in the environment, competencies and skills emerge which shape the future of an individual. Growing Leaders will help educators use this knowledge to create comprehensive learning environments within which all learners can become competent citizens of the 21st century.


Perception + Attitude = Experience

  • Perception of Power
  • Attitude of Cooperation
  • Experience of Success

The Tools for Your Students fall into three categories:  Self Management, Social Interaction, and Academic.  The reason I’m writing this book is to suggest that, even in today’s classroom, a teacher can create an environment that allows children . . .

  • to see themselves as powerful in the best sense of the word (Perception),
  • to learn healthy ways of thinking about themselves and others (Attitude), and
  • to develop skills that will serve them well as they grow into competent adults (Experience).


CHAPTER 1: The Perception of Power

If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.      Henry Ford

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can … The Little Engine Who Could


The word “power” has gotten a bad rap – and probably rightly so.  We don’t have to look far to see people being hurt by others who feel the need to assert their power inappropriately.  It’s my belief, however, that the drive to exert power over others comes from a deep sense of powerlessness.  When an individual feels no sense of internal power, the need to control others can get totally out of hand.

The best place, perhaps, to see that drama in action is on the elementary school playground.  Any teacher knows that you don’t have to dig very deep to find that the classroom bully plays the role of the victim somewhere else in his or her life.

The tools in this chapter are designed to help children reflect upon their own thoughts, feelings, and actions in real life situations.   As they become more self-aware,  they will begin to appreciate their ability to make positive choices that will impact their academic performance, the way they feel about themselves, and how they interact with others.



  • Autonomy:
    • The Johari Window
    • “Mirrors”
  • Capability:  Academic Rubrics and Self-Assessment
  • Self Awareness:  Personal Rubrics and Self-Assessment Tools
    • Safety Self Assessment
    • S.T.A.R Problem Solving


CHAPTER 2:   The Attitude of Cooperation


We live in a highly competitive society.  In fact, at the most basic level, competition is a survival mechanism.  “It’s a ‘dog eat dog’ world,” some people would say . . . and unfortunately many children come to school believing that.  The phrase “perceived survival” occurs to me when I think of what often goes on in the classroom.

Competition doesn’t need to be taught;  cooperation does.

So when a teacher has only so much time in the day, how can this be done?   I would suggest that the best use of classroom time is to hold class meetings and focus on establishing an attitude of cooperation from the very first day of school.  Many teachers, and, perhaps, most administrators will argue that this will take away from the sacred concept of “time on task.”  In my experience, however, taking 30 minutes each morning saves countless hours that would otherwise be spent dealing with discipline problems and social issues.

The tools in this chapter build upon the sense of Autonomy, Capability, and Self Awareness that we worked on in Chapter 1.   Once children perceive themselves as valuable members of the group, they are better prepared to appreciate the value in others.  Jack Canfield defined self-esteem like this:  “Appreciating my own worth and importance and having the character to be accountable for myself and to act responsibly toward others.”    The goal is empathy.  Bullies and victims will come to see themselves in a more realistic and positive light.  Inappropriate competition will diminish as the principles of cooperation established in the class meeting are lived out on a daily basis.


  • Belonging:   Character Education
  • Connection:   Class Meetings
  • Cooperation:    Project Teams
    • (From Committees to Cooperative Learning to Project Teams – Linda Margarian – March 5, 2014)
    • (Paul’s “Project Teams” at Hughes)


CHAPTER 3:  The Experience of Success

I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could …   The Little Engine Who Could

(Introduction:  Self Esteem)


  • Responsibility:   Individual Learning Plans
  • Empowerment:   Portfolios
  • Leadership:    Student Led Conferences (Introduction in Comment – 9/11/16)


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