Reflecting on my time in the classroom with our 7th graders this past trimester, I continue to be impressed by their sophistication, intellect and leadership.
About a decade and a half ago I made the decision to leave the classroom and become an administrator. At that moment in time I knew I would need to stay connected as an educator in order to be an effective leader. For the past six years at Stevens, I have enjoyed teaching a trimester-long leadership course to 7th graders.
This past trimester, students developed a more profound understanding of the qualities of leadership, and what they look like in action. Students had opportunities to practice these characteristics, as they took time to think beyond themselves and consider certain ideas in larger contexts. Our students are well known to be active participants and engaged citizens in discussions. Our class focused on enabling students to understand the relationship between their evolving identity as adolescents alongside their developing leadership skills.
A number of our students chose to set up a debate, using high school debate team rules, on the topic of whether the voting age should be changed from 18 to 16. All students had to develop an argument for both sides of the debate, before being assigned a team. Through collaboration, research, and examining the topic deeply, each side debated in front of a panel of faculty and showcased how deeply they not only can argue a topic of importance, but also empathize, relate to, and articulate points of view that are shared by others in society.
I continue to be completely impressed and humbled by how our school environment prepares students to think, act, and speak in ways that extend beyond themselves!