Today, Helping Hands visited the Detroit Achievement Academy in Detroit, MI to teach the sixth grade class about leadership. While leadership is a trait that is commonly referenced and highly sought after, it is found to be difficult to implement in practice. As such, we entered the sixth grade classrooms with a few goals: to teach the students what effective leadership looks like, to illustrate opportunities in which the students could practice leadership in their own communities and to instill the belief that each student in that room is a leader. At Helping Hands, we believe that leadership comes in many different forms and is inherent in every individual. By connecting with students and teaching them how to best utilize their leadership skills, we believe that we can truly influence the next generation of leaders and visionaries.
We began by engaging the class in an open discussion about what traits constitute a leader, what roles do leaders take and what encompasses the mindset of a leader. In this lively brainstorming process, the students came to the conclusion that a leader does much more than just lead. The sixth graders decided that leaders are also motivated, role-models, listeners, responsible, respectful, influential and more. With that in mind, we then asked the students to work on a worksheet activity to come up with their "superheroes". From Superman to mom and dad to Cardi B to Lebron James, the answers were absolutely diverse. So could these individuals be considered leaders? Upon posing this question, we sought to push the students to recognize the subtleties of leadership and that leadership is not always blatantly obvious. Eventually, a young boy raised his hand and shared a statement that captured the essence of these activities.
"So we can all be leaders, right?" he exclaimed.
The answer was a definite "YES". The students then began to discuss how they could be leaders in their communities whether it be at home, in the classroom, during a sports practice, with their friends, etc. We were so happy to see the students develop a new understanding of leadership, one that was more accessible and applicable to their own lives. As we concluded our seminar, the teachers asked the students if any of them had any concluding remarks to reflect on their experiences. From the middle of the classroom, a young girl named Sierra raised her hand and made a heart-warming comment.
"I appreciate our two guests because they have not only given us positivity for the rest of the day but for the rest of our lives to become leaders."
And at that moment, we knew that our message had truly resonated and confirmed that we were looking at a group of great leaders.