Helping Students Become a Better Version of Themselves

By: Allison Silverman

As a family and consumer science teacher at the middle school level, the Lead2Feed Student Leadership Program lessons seem to blend seamlessly into my curriculum.

Some of the major units of family and consumer science are interpersonal relationships, leadership, community connections, resource management, and global citizenship. The Lead2Feed lessons connect to each of these units on multiple levels.

Lead2Feed helps students become a better version of themselves. They are encouraged to dig deep and find their own leadership skills and styles. They learn about what they personally have to offer to a team and begin to develop their unique voice. Students learn how to manage time and prioritize what is important. They learn that in order to create change they need to be avid learners. They strive to gain more information about what matters to them so they can share their ideas more effectively with others.

The part that I enjoyed most during the Lead2Feed projects our school has done is watching students overcome barriers and learn to move forward even through adversity. When they want to accomplish something they don't give up on their goals.

Lead2Feed video from AMLE2016

I believe that the Lead2Feed lessons can be intertwined easily into multiple subject areas. For example, our grand prize winning project was inspired by a seventh grade required reading. In their ELA classes the students had read the book, A Long Walk to Water. The children were inspired by the novel to help the people in South Sudan gain access to drinking water.

Having read the book in their ELA classes, many of the children felt a personal connection to the project. We spread our project into the social studies classes where the students had studied the Lost Boys of Sudan. This lesson connected them to the organization we donated the money to.

Students are able to reach out to community businesses and organizations. They see firsthand how people come together to create positive change in the world. They see that they have overwhelming support when they are doing amazing things. It is powerful to witness these kids experience, sometimes for the first time, what it feels like to give. They do not have to receive anything in return and they experience one of the greatest feelings.

The Lead2Feed program and subsequent projects are student driven and the teacher is the facilitator. This is the student-centered classroom model. This type of classroom practice helps teachers create a safe classroom environment where all students' ideas are honored and appreciated.

Allison Silverman is an eighth grade teacher at Port Chester Middle School, Port Chester, New York.

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