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Qualities of a Leader - Unit Plan
December 1st, 2021



The next step in bringing explicit leadership learning experiences to my students hit a roadblock when my new school went back online to start the school year. I decided to look at this situation with the glass half full and saw an opportunity to still explore collaborative activities through Zoom, while also reflecting on personal experiences. 


The original plan was to introduce the five practices of great leaders, have students explore them alongside our team games unit, and reflect on the successes and challenges explicitly using these traits during the collaborative activities. Students would take on a role, have a goal to improve a specific trait, and plan strategies to improve their performance while also playing team games. I look forward to teaching this unit plan in the years to come when we are back on campus full-time!


For this six-week (12 hours) long online unit to start the year my goal was to provide students with frequent collaboration opportunities, learn about the qualities of great leaders, research famous leaders, all while building a culture of reflection in my new MYP PHE setting. 


To help plan this unit I referenced the Student Leadership Facilitation Guide and Dale Sidebottom’s All Work No Play which provided some nice icebreaker activities to get students collaborating quickly at the start of Zoom classes. 


Unpacking the Statement of Inquiry and Pre-assessment:


To see the students' thoughts on what the statement of inquiry means to them, and/or makes them think about it, I decided to do the "Chalk Talk"  visible thinking routine. With a new teacher, and being hesitant to type thoughts in lesson one of the school year, it had a slow start but led to some thoughtful responses, and good debrief discussions. 


To have a better understanding of how students see leadership, and reflect on their own leadership expertise I had them first fill out a leadership quiz that would provide them with strengths and weaknesses, and also answer the question on a google form, “What does leadership mean to you?” With no prompting I planned to use these responses for each student to see how their understanding of leadership developed over the course of the unit.

Lesson 2 - 6: Five Practices of Great Leaders


After an initial introductory lesson where students explored the concept of leadership and unpacked the statement of inquiry, we moved into learning about The Student Leadership’s Challenge “5 practices of great leaders”.



Each lesson was dedicated to a different leadership practice. Click on each practice below to see the google slides I used to teach the lesson over Zoom. 


Lesson activities included whole class games, and discussions. Breakout rooms were used for smaller groups to do activities together, and play icebreaker collaborative games. I also used a range of movie clips for students to see the various practices in action and reflect on what they see.



Lesson 7 - Researching a Famous Leader:


At this point we had learned the major practices, and discussed other skills prominent in leaders (communication, trust, charisma, etc.) so we moved on to exploring how popular leaders in history had used these different skills and practices to enable major change in their world. 


Students partnered up and each chose a leader from sports, politics, or world history. Each partner came up with 5 questions that the other would have to research and answer. See the google doc task sheet below.


Lesson 8 - SMART Goal Setting:


Goal setting and working towards goals is important in any collaborative setting. This lesson we learned about what SMART goals are, dissected a goal statement to see if it was a SMART goal, and then students each created their own.  


The goal students created was to be based on an interpersonal skill, ATL skill (Social or Self-Management) or general leadership quality they wanted to improve on over the course of next half-term when we are back at school for in-person learning. The google doc template students worked on individually is below. 


Lesson 9 - 12: Leadership Project


Students shared their understanding of leadership by completing a project that focused on demonstrating their knowledge (Criterion A) and reflecting (Criterion D). The task sheet below was provided to each student to guide them in their Qualities of a Leader summative assessment.


Teacher Reflection


Due to online learning, I saw the opportunity for an extensive leadership focused unit. Including zoom games that touched on the main focus of each class kept students engaged and also challenged them to get out of their comfort zone.


While the content was appropriate for 15-16 year old's, it would have been more effective to mix these 5 practices of student leaders alongside a physical team focused unit. In the future I will look to go this route, matching each leadership practice alongside a week of a team games unit.


Student feedback was mostly positive with google form responses stating they were more conscious of the way they interacted during group projects. Student participation increased as the unit moved along. I believe this to be a combination of new students starting to feel more comfortable, and greater use of breakout rooms to include smaller group discussion.

How are you developing and encouraging leadership at your school? Send me a message on twitter @tannernickel or an email!

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