Student leader meetings are a crucial part of any school’s student leadership program. They provide an opportunity for student leaders to collaborate and take action on their goals. These meetings often take place at lunchtime, a competitive time when it comes to scheduling. These 5 strategies will help ensure that students continue to choose to show up and value the time spent in the meetings.
1. Have a clear purpose and agenda
Many adults cringe at the thought of meetings, because we have experienced the brain-numbing horror of being trapped in an endless meeting with no agenda that definitely could have been an email. Having a clear goal and purpose for each meeting will help determine what format will best suit and make sure that everyone’s time is respected. The agenda can be shared with the group ahead of time in a shared drive so that everyone involved knows what will be discussed.
2. Give the students ownership
It is important to distinguish the student leadership meetings from the classic school format where the teacher talks and students listen. Once students switch into “passive mode”, they will see the meeting as more of an obligation than an opportunity. With effective scaffolding and support, the ideal for meetings is for them to be entirely student run. To start with, develop roles that different students can take on, and invite students to run different sections of the meeting.
Brainstorm with your students how they can get the most out of the meetings and support them to take the lead and have ownership.
3. Start with an icebreaker
It is important to set the tone for the meeting, and help create an environment where students feel relaxed and comfortable. Icebreaker games are fun and help students to get to know each other better. You can also use it as an opportunity for students to practice their leadership skills by asking them to lead the game!
4. Have a reflection
Self reflection is an important leadership skill, and the meetings are a great opportunity to teach it. Again this is a great opportunity for the students to take ownership. In each meeting, a different student can share a reflection like a video or poem or share a story from their own experience and what they’ve learned.
5. Take action
A common complaint that students (and adults) have about meetings is that “we just talk around in circles and don’t do anything.” The more hands-on and active the meetings are, the more engaged students will be. Involve all students by breaking into working groups to prepare for your upcoming events. Pair your discussion time with a hands-on activity like making toiletry packs for an organisation like Pinchapoo. Use post-it notes to capture and synthesise multiple ideas. Be sure to clearly capture any actions that will take place between meetings as well and assign a due date and person responsible for each.
What strategies do you employ to keep your student leader meetings engaging and worthwhile? Let us know in the comments!
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